Migraine or Stroke? Delay in Treatment Is Costly

Teri Robert @@trobert Health Guide December 05, 2012
  • People have asked how to know if we're having a Migraine or a stroke. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms we experience with a Migraine can also be symptoms of stroke, and there are times when we might think it's possible that we're having a stroke, not a Migraine.   In Canada, a doctor is now s...

12 Comments
  • jgschreiber
    Dec. 06, 2012

    I remember a post or a comment on this a while ago. You said if the pain was far worse than you've ever had before, or if it was a thunderclap headache. I'm still confused on a what a thunderclap headache is, but you did make it clear that if the migraine pain was more severe than you ever experienced before to get help ASAP as that was a red...

    RHMLucky777

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    I remember a post or a comment on this a while ago. You said if the pain was far worse than you've ever had before, or if it was a thunderclap headache. I'm still confused on a what a thunderclap headache is, but you did make it clear that if the migraine pain was more severe than you ever experienced before to get help ASAP as that was a red flag. The kind of pain that comes on sudden and severe and takes your breath away. It would be bad enough to scare the bejesus out of you.?????? At least that's what I took away from it. I could be wrong though and if I am I apologize in advance, but if I had one like that it would scare the bejesus out of me, that's for sure.

    • Teri Robert
      Health Guide
      Dec. 06, 2012

      No, you're not wrong. One of the problems with Migraine is that many of the symptoms can also be symptoms of other things. As discussed here, stroke is high on that list. So is aneurysm. Several years ago, actress Sharon Stone thought she was having the worst Migraine she'd ever had. Fortunately, she got to the hospital becuase it was an aneurysm, and if she...

      RHMLucky777

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      No, you're not wrong. One of the problems with Migraine is that many of the symptoms can also be symptoms of other things. As discussed here, stroke is high on that list. So is aneurysm. Several years ago, actress Sharon Stone thought she was having the worst Migraine she'd ever had. Fortunately, she got to the hospital becuase it was an aneurysm, and if she hadn't gotten care when she did, it could have been too late.

       

      You can find info on thunderclap headache at http://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/types-of-headaches-565884-5.html

       

      Teri

    • jgschreiber
      Dec. 06, 2012

      Wow, with matters dealing w/the brain you just can't be too safe or you'll be sorry, but at the same time you really have to educate yourself so you don't jump the gun. I checked out the link and will read it again so I can let it sink in a little better. Sometimes reading it a few times it sticks better. Thank you Teri.

    • Teri Robert
      Health Guide
      Dec. 06, 2012

      Couldn't agree with you more!

       

      You're welcome.

  • Dan
    Dan
    Dec. 05, 2012

    This is good info, and worth raising awareness about it, but...

     

    Speaking strictly for my own personal situation, this advice is completely unrealistic. I want to laugh maniacally every time I see / hear advice about migraine and stroke, and the recommendation to seek medical attention when in doubt.

     

    The recommendation is certainly a good one--and...

    RHMLucky777

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    This is good info, and worth raising awareness about it, but...

     

    Speaking strictly for my own personal situation, this advice is completely unrealistic. I want to laugh maniacally every time I see / hear advice about migraine and stroke, and the recommendation to seek medical attention when in doubt.

     

    The recommendation is certainly a good one--and it's better to be safe and sorry--but in my case, it's not something I can follow. I have chronic complex migraine that most often manifests with stroke-like symptoms. Every Day. If I were to call my doctor or go to ER any time I had a doubt about whether the symptoms are migraine or real stroke, I'd be doing that every day.

     

    Apologies for being the annoyed exception to the rule, but I feel it's worth pointing out there can be situations where 'better safe than sorry' is simply impractical and/or too expensive. If I do have a real stroke one of these days, I'm not going to know it until it's progressed into the absolutely clear, too late for tPA, stage(s).

     

    What has particularly irked me in this situation is, when I did consult my (first) neurologist and ask "How do I know if it's a stroke?", I was told that my neurologist could not make that judgement for me, and that, if in doubt, I should head immediately to the ER. This was after I'd already done that once, and they could not find a single thing wrong with me.

    • Teri Robert
      Health Guide
      Dec. 05, 2012

      I hear you, Dan. You're not the only person in this situation.

       

      That said, for all the Migraineurs who ARE in this situation - Your doctor should be willing to sit down with you and discuss how to determine when you need to get care. It may be when you experience certain symptoms for the first time, when they're worse than usual, or some other criteria....

      RHMLucky777

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      I hear you, Dan. You're not the only person in this situation.

       

      That said, for all the Migraineurs who ARE in this situation - Your doctor should be willing to sit down with you and discuss how to determine when you need to get care. It may be when you experience certain symptoms for the first time, when they're worse than usual, or some other criteria.

       

      Also, is "chronic complex Migraine" your actual diagnosis? If so, you might want to consider getting a second opinion. One of the most important things is to get an accurate diagnosis. To simplify matters and make it easier for people to get information and treatment, doctors usually go by the gold standard for diagnosis, the International Headache Society's International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd Edition (ICHD-II). Although people often ask what “complex” or “complicated” Migraines are, there’s no such diagnoses under ICHD-II. We do see it used, but doctors use it differently, so it really doesn't tell anyone what type of Migraine you actually have. You can read more about this What Is a Complex or Complicated Migraine? and The Type of Migraine Does Matter.

       

      So, I do understand what you're saying, and it's absolutely a valid point. Still, your doctor should be able to help you with outlining when you should be concerned enough to seek care.

       

      Teri

       

    • Dan
      Dan
      Dec. 05, 2012

      Thank you, Teri! My neurologists have used 'complex' and 'complicated' interchangeably, though my current neurologist referred to it as 'atypical complex migraine' at my last appointment. I'll look at the links you posted and raise the diagnosis question at my next appointment.

    • Teri Robert
      Health Guide
      Dec. 05, 2012

      You're very welcome, Dan.

       

      I'm struggling with chronic Migraine myself, so I can imagine your frustration. If I can do anything to help, or if you just need some support, you know where to find me.

       

      Teri

    • Dan
      Dan
      Dec. 05, 2012

      Thank you, Teri! I know you've posted about this before, but are there other lists or ways to locate a migraine specialist, aside from:

       

      Patient Recommended Migraine and Headache Specialists
      http://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/headache-specialists.html

      Migraine & Headache Specialists and Clinics
      http://www.migraines.org/help/helpclin.htm

       

      ...which...

      RHMLucky777

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      Thank you, Teri! I know you've posted about this before, but are there other lists or ways to locate a migraine specialist, aside from:

       

      Patient Recommended Migraine and Headache Specialists
      http://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/headache-specialists.html

      Migraine & Headache Specialists and Clinics
      http://www.migraines.org/help/helpclin.htm

       

      ...which is all I've found so far. Those don't list anyone in my state (NC), and I'm reluctant to go very far if I can avoid it. Then again, I'm getting to the point where a road trip to see a migraine specialist doesn't sound so bad; so I'd like to be sure I'm using the "best" lists to find a migraine specialist.

       

    • Teri Robert
      Health Guide
      Dec. 05, 2012

      Hi, Dan,

       

      The list on MAGNUM hasn't been updated in years. My list is based on patient recommendations, so it's at the mercy of patients thinking to make those recommendations.

       

      Check on http://www.achenet.org, the American Headache Society. There's a box to check there that gives you an extra level of expertise, the UCNS certification.

       

      On...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hi, Dan,

       

      The list on MAGNUM hasn't been updated in years. My list is based on patient recommendations, so it's at the mercy of patients thinking to make those recommendations.

       

      Check on http://www.achenet.org, the American Headache Society. There's a box to check there that gives you an extra level of expertise, the UCNS certification.

       

      On traveling - sometimes, it's just necessary. When I first needed to see a specialist, my husband and I drove eight hours each direction to get me to one. Now, I have one just three hours away, but if I still had to drive eight hours I'd do it because it really did make that much difference.

       

      Teri

    • Dan
      Dan
      Dec. 05, 2012

      Yay!!! There's a local doctor who is in-network for my insurance--found him via the ACHE search you recommended.  Thank you!!

    • Teri Robert
      Health Guide
      Dec. 05, 2012

      You're welcome! Keep me posted on how things go. Cool

       

      Teri

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