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Migraine With Aura

About Migraines with Aura

What Is Migraine with Aura?

Migraine with aura is very similar in presentation to the ‘normal’ version of migraine but it is preceded by some type of ‘aura’ or visual disturbance, typically an early warning sign that a migraine is beginning to occur.

The aura is a form of sensory change that usually occurs about 30 minutes before the head pain begins. 90% of the time this is a visual change like zig zags, flashing lights or black spots moving across the visual field. It can also take the form of pins and needles in the hands and/or feet or muscle weakness, often on one side of the body which is referred to as hemiplegic migraine. Another disturbing feature can be an inability to speak (aphasia).

Some of these symptoms can be alarming because they mimic a stroke but in Migraine with Aura, they are fully reversible and only last for a relatively short period of time. There are occasions where a person has an aura without an accompanying headache, this is sometimes referred to as a silent migraine.

 Migraine with Aura Diagnosis

How Do We Diagnose Migraine with Aura?

The diagnosis of Migraine with Aura can take some time initially as the concern is often whether someone is having a stroke or some sort of brain injury. Once this has been cleared and a full medical history has been clarified, a diagnosis of Migraine with aura can usually be made promptly.

Migraine with Aura Symptoms

Difficulty in Concentration

Tired and weary Yawning

Pallor & Paralysis


Neck Stiffness



Sensitivity to light and sound

Blurred vision / doplopia

Nausea Vomitting


Treating Migraine with Aura using The Watson Headache® Approach

Migraine with Aura Treatment

Treatment is often focused on the use of medications which target the nerve sensitivity in the brainstem. These can include triptans, CGRP (Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide) injections or Botox.

The underlying driver of migraine (brainstem sensitivity) is the same for all migraine presentations, such as dietary changes, sleep improvements, exercise, and upper neck treatment. This is why treatment of the upper neck can be effective in changing migraine symptoms.

Sydney Headache and Migraine Centre the Watson Headache® Approach which focuses on addressing the underlying mechanical dysfunctions in the upper neck that can be dialling up sensitivity in the brainstem, causing migraine. Skilled physiotherapists trained in the Watson Headache® Approach utilise specific manual techniques to assess and treat dysfunctions in the cervical spine and related structures. These techniques have been proven to reduce the sensitisation of the nervous system, providing relief from migraine symptoms.


For more information to manage Migraine with Aura, read our blogs on What causes migraine, Neck-migraine Connection and 5 reasons your neck is involved.




Cervical Referral of Head Pain in Migraineurs: Effects on the Nociceptive Blink Reflex Dean H. Watson, MAppSc; Peter D. Drummond, PhD, Headache 2014;54:1035-1045

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