Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Monday, September 19, 2011 Jenefer, Community Member, asks

Q: How Serious Are Hemiplegic Migraines?

My 15 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with them and suffers from them almost daily. This has been going on for almost 2 years now. She's been to the ER so many times and has had to be withdrawn from school because of them. So my question is, what can we expect for the future?
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Answers (1)
Nancy Harris Bonk, Community Member
9/20/11 10:32am

Hi Jenefer,


Hemiplegic Migraine is a rare form of Migraine disease that actually has a few different subtypes: Familial Hemiplegic Migraine (FMH) and Sporadic Hemiplegic Migraine (SHM). What makes diagnosing both FHM and SHM is they can often be diufficult to diagnose being mistaken for epilepsy, stroke or other conditions. SHM is when no other family member is identified as having any symptoms of Hemiplegic Migraine. FHM can sometimes be traced back, however difficult, to other members in the family with HM. That's why it is so important to have an accurate diagnosis from an expert - a Migraine specialist - in addition to a neurologist. Even with an accurate diagnosis, managing HM can be challenging due to all the different symptoms a patient may experience. Again, that's why seeing an expert is the best option, in my opinion. Continue reading this for more on Hemiplegic Migraine  - The Basics

This is where it gets tricky - neurologists are fine doctors but treat so many different conditions like epilepsy, stroke and MS, it is difficult for them to be experts in one area. Even though they may say they are "headache specialistz" that really may not be the case. A Migraine specialist is just that, an expert in one area - ours - Migraines and headaches. These experts treat Migraines and headaches, day in and day out and are the  "true" experts. There are only 290 United Council Neurologic Subspecialities (UCNS) Board Certified doctors in headache medicine, which clearly means every neurologist who says they are a "headache specialist" may not be. Don't get me wrong, its not that the doctors aren't great doctors, but just are not knowledgeable enough in Migraines and headaches for tougher cases. When you get a chance, take a look at the article Migraine and Headache Specialists - What's So Special? If you need help finding a Migraine specialist, check our listing of Patient Recommended Migraine and Headache Specialists.



If you'd like to talk with and get some additional information and support  come join our discussion forum. We even have a special thread for Hemiplegic Migraineurs (or HMers) you may find very helpful. You'll need to register again once there because it's a separate membership database, but you can use the same member name, email address, and password that you used here. You can find our forum at http://forums.healthcentral.com/discussion/migraine/forums.


Back to your question regarding the serious nature of Hemiplegic Migraine. Because some symptoms of HM can lead to impaired speaking ability, mobility and/or consciousness a medical ID braclet is very helpful. If your daughter is having attacks on that regular of a basis, I would strongly encourage having a Migraine specialist see her to make sure she has an accurate diagnosis.


Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help,


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By Jenefer, Community Member— Last Modified: 09/20/11, First Published: 09/19/11