The Multiple Sclerosis/Migraine Connection

Mandy Crest Health Guide December 11, 2008
  • A recently published report (Dr. Mario Zappia, University of Catania) states that “in an analysis adjusting for age and sex, researchers observed a significant association between MS and headache. The likelihood of headache was more than twofold higher in the MS patients than in the control pat...

17 Comments
  • olivejus
    Nov. 27, 2013

    I have suffered from Migraines on and off in my life. I could pretty much tell when they where coming on, I would take Excedrine and it would take care of the migraine. When I was pregnant I had really bad headaches for the first 16 weeks of my preganancy, so bad I took Excedrine even though I shouldn't.

    I am 39 years old, I went to my doctor about 3 years...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I have suffered from Migraines on and off in my life. I could pretty much tell when they where coming on, I would take Excedrine and it would take care of the migraine. When I was pregnant I had really bad headaches for the first 16 weeks of my preganancy, so bad I took Excedrine even though I shouldn't.

    I am 39 years old, I went to my doctor about 3 years ago because my migraines started increasing and I had a myriad of strange symptoms, at that time my biggest complaint was limb jerking, and pain in my midsection. I also had a lot of random pains throughout my body. My doctors did every test in the book because I was loosing weight, only to rule out everything!

    About 2 years ago I asked my doctor for an MRI since my migraines had changed, they didn't think it was needed. I had 3 doctors quit on me because I kept coming in for strange symptoms they couldn't place. (in retrospect they all make sense now)

    A year ago I started having horrible headaches upon waking in the morning. As you may know migraine rarely happen upon waking. It reminding me of a hangover headache. The second I opened my eyes my forehead and eyes screamed with pain, I would take Immatrex and throw it up. This would increase so bad I cried until about 6pm. I told my husband next time to take me to the ER, even if I didn't want to.

    I had another one and my husband took me to the ER. They did an MRI and found up to 40 lesions! mostly in my frontal lobe but periventricular and way more than they like to see with migraines. To make a very long stroy short, they tested me for everything, blood all normal, LP normal, EEG normal, MRA normal, etc.

    I went to a new coverage and started the process again. I have not seen the same Neuro twice. Tried Topamax (made me stupid!) Botox (worked but only lasted 2 months and caused lots of pain when stopped working) Depakote, Limictil, etc. Immatrex works but I take it too much. What concerns me is my other symptoms that I get.

    - Intermittent tingling partial numbness (right side of scalp, forearem, leg, sternum, bottom of foot, face, shoulders with shooting pain that makes my arm go limp)

    - BONE CRUSHING fatigue! This is the worst! If I am sitting I am good but as soon as I stand up I feel like I am going to colapse. I sleep 14 hours could go more if I wanted. I play shortstop in softball, I have to take green tea extract pills to get through the game, I run and it feels like I used all my energy)

    - Myoclonic jerking/Shaking - Just sitting there I jump, muscles jump, I am really bad at night. Clonazapam has helped that but it is still there. My right had shakes all the time, so bad I can't write. Most of my issues are on my right.

    - Swollowing on one side (left side) intermittent

    - Pain in my eyes. I went to a Ophamologist and she said I had 20/20 but my eyes where having spastisity so when they get fatigued they over focus or under focus. she said to wear glasses like a brace to give my eyes a rest. I see flashing lights when I close my eyes on right side, even saw purple a couple times when I closed my eyes. I take Amytriptiline and it helps with my head pain, its not a headache but leads to a migraine, if I don't take it I get a headache every day. Pain in my jaw, temples, teeth, etc.

    - Ringing in my ears, sometimes this almost knocks me over. I also had my hearing tested I have high frequency hearing loss, of course intermittent.

    - Muscle cramps in my upper abs under my ribs, if I laugh, or strain too much. I have been told my diaphram is spastic.

    - I am or was a very smart person. I was amazing at problem solving. I am an artist. I feel like I am missing that debth in my congnition that made me smart. Its like someone cut out that part or I don't have access to it anymore. I forgot how to do subtraction the other day. I flip words (instead of saying nice hit, I say nice play), I slurr when I get overheated, i trip over my words and have a problem concentrating. I also have MAJOR ADD or lack of motivation. I also will be in a thought and just loose it. I feel content to just stare at the wall. I love to read but if I am trying to read to learn something like school work I have to say it out loud to understand it. I have an autistic son and this is his problem too. I get a headache if I think to hard.

    - weakness in right arm, legs.

    - Random pains

    - Urinary issues (can't start my stream sometimes, and/or can't empty my bladder) intermittent

    - Constipation or loose stools, I either have one or the other, I am not regular but its like I don't have the backing to get it out. I also have leakage (fun stuff) Upper and lower endoscopy said all 'normal'

    - Spasticity in my right arm. When I play in the cold, my arm gets really cold and my forearm and upper arm gets tingly and I can't use my arm very well. The cold makes it worse, I will field the ball but in the transfer I can't grip or hold the ball. I had really bad spasticity a while back where my hand was either locked in a grip or open.

    There are more that I can't remember (memory issues!) But my ophamologist says my eyes are acting like MS, my primarey feels it is that but the neurologists won't commit. I have seen so many they just meet with me and refer to a different Neuro. I had a repeat MRI and there was no change but I have sooo many how could they tell if there where new ones, there has to be lesions that they can't see. I am frustrated because they keep saying vascular migraines but I know in my heart of hearts its more than that. If I could attach photos I would show you my lesions, they are all in the white matter. The question is if they are just migraine with having this many, wouldn't the symptoms be the same and if it was migraines and I have been getting these all my life, why am I just now getting all these symptoms?

    Thanks for letting me vent!!!

  • Anonymous
    wagirl
    Apr. 12, 2012

    thanks for the artice. Very interesting. I am 33 years old. Diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy at the age of 14. THey did an MRI at that time - I had a few small punctate lesions on my frontal and parietal lobes...I have been on depakote since I was 14 - have not had problems with seizures since then. I always though had this strange intense gaze. I...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    thanks for the artice. Very interesting. I am 33 years old. Diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy at the age of 14. THey did an MRI at that time - I had a few small punctate lesions on my frontal and parietal lobes...I have been on depakote since I was 14 - have not had problems with seizures since then. I always though had this strange intense gaze. I can break it..so it's not a seizure but i just think it is strange - it happened a lot to me when I was in high school and is currently happening a lot now.

    Currently I started going to the gym in December and working out about an hour a day at the gym - spinning classes and personal trainer...I started getting headaches that just kept increasing. My promary doctor thought an MRI would be a good ideas so I had one done in December - the reports noted white matter lesions in the centrum semi-ovale, periventricular white matter.

    I saw the neurologist because of the increase in headaches and i was getting tingling in my 4th and 5th digits of my hand up my arm..just to be sure he wanted to see what would happen with contrast. I went in and they did both brian and cervical spine... nothing lit up with the contrast. however the report counted 35-40 lesions measuring 1-4 mm and one measuring 6 mm.

    My head just EVERY DAY feels like it is pounding  - occasional really painful stabbing but mostly just lightheadeed/dizzy feeling ALL THE TIME...

    I tried topomax and it made me so dumb!  Imitrex made my headach worse  - becasue it increased my blood pressure. 

    My neuro thinks the lesions do not lok like MS lesions and that I most likely do not have MS. He sent me for bloodwork for ischemic disease, and said he will do a eye test and wanted to do a spinal tap  - but then when he saw how uncomfortable I was with that - he asked me if I wanted to go see an MS specialist in Seattle to completely rule out MS. He said if the specialit asks him to do the LP then we would do it. One the one hand he tells me it's not MS but on the other he is still looking for proof that it is not MS 100%. Whats going on?  In the meantime I am suffering with headaches daily!!!!!!!

     

  • MSERS
    Jun. 14, 2011

    I like others have had migraines for as long as I can remember.  They were so bad that my mom said I would kick and scream.  When I was 30 I went to a new doctor he asked about my migraines and if I had ever had an mri done.  Of course I had never had one so we decided it was best to have one done.  It came back as "white matter" on my brain.  ...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I like others have had migraines for as long as I can remember.  They were so bad that my mom said I would kick and scream.  When I was 30 I went to a new doctor he asked about my migraines and if I had ever had an mri done.  Of course I had never had one so we decided it was best to have one done.  It came back as "white matter" on my brain.   I was referded to a neuro.  she said that the white matter looked like a normal mri for a person that has had migraines for a long time.  She decided to do two more mri's over a year to see if there was a change.  I had the next two mri's done in a years time.  Both can back more or new white matter.  I was told that I have M.S.......To make the story short I have have M.S. for 2 years now and my migraines have got worse. I  have tried 4 differnet meds and they work for a while then they dont anymore. I am sure this is a common problem in M.S.ers. 

  • Anonymous
    Dianne
    Apr. 03, 2010

    I was diagnosed with possible ms, because of the problems that I was having and the fact that my mother has ms. I have suffered from migraines for over 30 years and my doctor states it is because I have went though menapause is the reason that I don't have as many. I still have the headaches.

     

    I have been going to another doctor because of my eye drooping...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I was diagnosed with possible ms, because of the problems that I was having and the fact that my mother has ms. I have suffered from migraines for over 30 years and my doctor states it is because I have went though menapause is the reason that I don't have as many. I still have the headaches.

     

    I have been going to another doctor because of my eye drooping and blurred vision and she just informed me that I tested postive for myasthenia gravis on the 1 st test and negtive on the next test. She gave me medication and stated that I could start taking it if I wanted too or I could wait until another doctor does a test were they put needles in my face and put electricity to them. I have read alot of articles about myasthenia gravis and they all state that it affects the nerves and muscles and that the rest is the best thing for you. It doesn't mention the pain, muscle spams, or alot of the other signs of ms.  I had an MRI and the doctor stated that I had white spot on the white matter of my brain and that could be from me smoking but she didn't know. So can someone tell me if they have myasthenia gravis and if they are in alot of pain especially in their arms and legs. I also have problems with walking, speech, tingling in arms, legs, burning in legs and spine,electric shock in my fingers and toes,muscle spams. I take my medication at night and still wake up hurting and hurt all day. So please any advice will help. Thanks. Dianne

  • Anonymous
    Hope
    Dec. 01, 2009

    I suffer from MS anr get frequent headaches. I have realised that when i get this severe migraine type headache my ms symtoms get worsen. My walking gets worse with balance problems. I definately agree that the migraine attacks deteriorate my ms condition by making it worse.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Nov. 23, 2009

    I have been getting migraines for the past 10 years.  They are always followed by several days of numbness on my left side.  The migraines are also almost always on my left side.  An MRI has revealed what has been "read" as "small vessel disease."  I have always suspected some mild form of MS.  My sister also has MS symptoms.  My...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I have been getting migraines for the past 10 years.  They are always followed by several days of numbness on my left side.  The migraines are also almost always on my left side.  An MRI has revealed what has been "read" as "small vessel disease."  I have always suspected some mild form of MS.  My sister also has MS symptoms.  My brother has migraines also. So there may be something in our genetics.  Now, with the recent news from Italy about the carotid artery and the new procedure to alleviate MS symptoms, I'm thinking I'd like to get my arteries tested.  I believe there is a very good chance there is a connection here.  What a relief if it's something this simple.  I am now taking beta blockers for the migraines - and it works!  But now I cough all the time and my doctor thinks it might be the beta blockers shutting down my airway receptors.  Sheesh!  I'm an otherwise healthy 62 year old.  I'm in good physical condition (5' 4" and 130 lbs).  I've been doing yoga for the past 30 years, which I believe has been a lifesaver for me.  

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Aug. 01, 2009

    About a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with chronic sinusitus.  Along with this brings chronic inflammation of the sinuses and I am at risk for infection at all times.  It started with a headache that just got worse and worse until I would get so dizzy I'd almost fall over.  I ended up having endoscopic sinus surgery because I kept getting...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    About a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with chronic sinusitus.  Along with this brings chronic inflammation of the sinuses and I am at risk for infection at all times.  It started with a headache that just got worse and worse until I would get so dizzy I'd almost fall over.  I ended up having endoscopic sinus surgery because I kept getting migraines and they did a cat scan and I had a huge mass of mucus stuck in my sinuses...that explained the migraines...until they came back  a year later.  Finally I went into the ER and they did another cat scan.  It was abnormal so they did an MRI and found multiple little white legions along with a "scar" the size of a quarter.  After a spinal tap, they said the results gave evidence of MS.  So, I still have been having migranes for a month strait and finally the pain dulled after taking Lyrica and Indomethicin.  The pain was so severre I could not leave my house for several days at a time.  Dr. thinks they are not connected but it doesn't make sense that I have 3 seperate issue...chronic sinusitus, chronic migraines and MS.  These are all Head related issues.  I also have had constant pain in the back of my eyes for the whole of that year and a half, so I could have had MS all along.  The pain in my eyes is so painful and it will not go away no matter what I do.  In a couple days I go discuss treatment options with my doctor.  I keep feeling numb tingling spots on my thigh or back or calves, I'm so weak and dizzy all the time.  I can't think correctly and reading is often difficult.  I am 24 and I just enrolled into college to major in english..finally deciding to do somthing with my life, and then BAM! you have MS...try studying now.  I can't focus with the migraines or the eye pain.  If something doesn't dull the pain soon, I'll have to quit school.  I want to go to school sooo bad, it's the only thing I want to do.  If I can't have that...I don't want to live.  Writing is who I am.  Any advice for me?  Do they symptoms decrease when the attack is over?  How long can an attack last?  Is it possible that the eye pain will go away?  I don't know what else to do.

  • Anonymous
    dac
    Jul. 28, 2009

    The migraines have been much more difficult to live with than any of the problems I have had with MS thus far.  I was diagnosed with MS in 1994 and initially suffered from various relapsing-remitting type problems.  I am blessed to be doing extraordinarily well today and hope to continue that way.

    Unfortunately, I get many many migraines throughout...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    The migraines have been much more difficult to live with than any of the problems I have had with MS thus far.  I was diagnosed with MS in 1994 and initially suffered from various relapsing-remitting type problems.  I am blessed to be doing extraordinarily well today and hope to continue that way.

    Unfortunately, I get many many migraines throughout the course of a month and there is rarely enough migraine medicine (since insurance limits me to 6 doses per month) to get me through.  Consequently, I suffer with many migraines without help. 

    Anyway, when I was diagnosed, the possibility of these migraines was never mentioned.

    Fortunately, today, with the internet and other rapid forms of communication, we can share our ailments with one-another and "not feel alone".  We can also share suggestions.

    I write here merely to let others know "you are not alone".!

    DAC

     

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Aug. 10, 2009

      You are me...i was diagnosed in 1996 and i am good...most days except fatique from time to time so...i can control that....But my migraines are another story...for the past 5 years...i have tried all kinds of meds...(Imetrex is my drug of choice this year)....some  work well....but i am 53 and the headaches used to come on a monthly basis at the same time...Now...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      You are me...i was diagnosed in 1996 and i am good...most days except fatique from time to time so...i can control that....But my migraines are another story...for the past 5 years...i have tried all kinds of meds...(Imetrex is my drug of choice this year)....some  work well....but i am 53 and the headaches used to come on a monthly basis at the same time...Now they come two times a month.... and i feel sick on my stomach.. cannot sleep them away without med.... meds work for a while and then... don't...

      but i pray and I thank God that this old migraine is all i have. I am going to start working out more and drink green smoothies like Montel's new book says...maybe that will help....

      i hope so anyway... glad i found my twin out there fighting my same battle

      mrs mom

  • Anonymous
    KRK
    Apr. 20, 2009

    I am a 41 year old female...a over a year ago I started with some "typical" ms symptoms....visual problems, major brain fog, speech problems (using wrong words and stuttering), SO much pain in my low back, legs and the bottom of feet (I have been a long distance runner for 20 years and could not run 1.5 miles last summer because of the pain), tingling...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I am a 41 year old female...a over a year ago I started with some "typical" ms symptoms....visual problems, major brain fog, speech problems (using wrong words and stuttering), SO much pain in my low back, legs and the bottom of feet (I have been a long distance runner for 20 years and could not run 1.5 miles last summer because of the pain), tingling in legs, arms and up back of head, right eye pain and involuntary muscle jerks.  My neurologist ordered a brain mri, low spine mri (to rule out disk problems because of low back and leg pain), visual evoked response, eeg (??) and full metabolic panel...everything was normal other than the brain mri showed numerous small lesions that he said are more suspect to a migrane history along with one larger lesion.  I told him I have never had a migraine.   He said I didn't have ms and there was nothing more he could do (along with being a complete jerk).  So I went to another neuorologist who took me more seriously...she used the "wait and see" method.  My symptoms lasted for about 5 months and then early Nov. everything disappeared EXCEPT for the eye pain and muscle jerks (which have gotten MUCH worse).  Now, in the last month the symptoms are coming back again in full force.  My doc scheduled another mri that came back "stable".  The doctor is thinking that I have a history of migraines that I never knew about???....She is trying to explain the eye pain and the jerking is a reusult of that stress???  Can I have lesions on my spinethat we don't know about?  Can ms flair start without new lesions?  How do you explain the other symptoms too??  I am at my wits end and want answers...any help or advice would be greatly appreciated! 

    • Mandy Crest
      Health Guide
      Apr. 20, 2009

      Hello, KRK:

       

      I'd like to preface my response by saying that I am not a medical professional and that my comments are strictly from the perspective of an MS/Migraine patient.

       

      It is difficult for me to believe that one could have a history of migraines and not know it. Migraines come with a very high level of pain. However, it is possible to have...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hello, KRK:

       

      I'd like to preface my response by saying that I am not a medical professional and that my comments are strictly from the perspective of an MS/Migraine patient.

       

      It is difficult for me to believe that one could have a history of migraines and not know it. Migraines come with a very high level of pain. However, it is possible to have ocular migraines without pain, but they come with visual disturbances.

       

      Many of your symptoms are suggestive of MS. I also was initially told by a doctor that the sprinkling of white spots (lesions) on my brain scan were due to migraines, not MS. Apparently it's a difficult distinction.

       

      Keep in mind that reaching a diagnosis of MS often takes a long time -- many tests must be repeated and many other causes of your symptoms will have to be ruled out. Until they come up with a single definitive test for MS, diagnosis will remain complicated.

       

      I do have a couple of suggestions. You might want to search for a neurologist in your area who specializes in MS. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society may be able to help you find one.

       

      I also suggest that you start a journal if you haven't already done so. Keep a daily log of every symptom, no matter how minor. Keep a file with all previous test results as well.

       

      And don't be shy about calling the doctor -- it's important that you are seen while symptoms are present, if at all possible. If you don't have MS, you still need to get to the bottom of these symptoms.

       

      Please don't give up -- you must be your own patient advocate.

       

       

       

    • Anonymous
      KRK
      Apr. 23, 2009

      Thanks for the response.  While I know you are not a medical professional I value your view point from the patient perspective.  I do have 2 more questions.  In your experience with ms, can a couple symptoms remain during a remission period like my eye pain and muscle jerks?  I can't find any info on this.  In the last few...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Thanks for the response.  While I know you are not a medical professional I value your view point from the patient perspective.  I do have 2 more questions.  In your experience with ms, can a couple symptoms remain during a remission period like my eye pain and muscle jerks?  I can't find any info on this.  In the last few weeks several of my other original symptoms are returning.  Also, have you ever had a ms "hug"?  If so, do you know what brings them on....I also get a really weird intense cramp in my upper abs that last a few minutes at a time....but have no idea if this could be related or I am just exhausted and crazy!  While I am not trying to self diagnose myself with ms in any way, I just want to figure out what is going on with me and trying to explore all avenues.  Both neurologists I have been to are very difficult to communicate with....I will do research on another....thanks!

    • Mandy Crest
      Health Guide
      Apr. 23, 2009

      Even in patients with relapsing/remitting MS -- where there are clearly defined periods of flare-ups followed by complete to almost complete remissions -- we are not always symptom free during remission. It is definitely within the normal range to experience symptoms during those times.

       

      I have not personally experienced the MS Hug. (see my post, MS Hug...

      Read More

      Even in patients with relapsing/remitting MS -- where there are clearly defined periods of flare-ups followed by complete to almost complete remissions -- we are not always symptom free during remission. It is definitely within the normal range to experience symptoms during those times.

       

      I have not personally experienced the MS Hug. (see my post, MS Hug Demystified) I do know that as with many other symptoms of MS, the Hug can be brought on by stress, heat, or fatigue. While it is not a life-threatening event, it is frightening in its intensity. Definitely something you'll want to mention to your neurologist.

       

      I hope I've answered your questions and been of some help.

       

      All the best,

      Mandy

       

       

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Sep. 09, 2009

      I get those crazy ab cramps...usually if I have bent somehow wierd, or if I shift suddenly in  my seat.  Always wondered what they are, could be the MS i suppose, feels like my insides are turning inside out.

    • MSERS
      Jun. 14, 2011

      I would ask about a spinal tap.  I am not sure what it is they test for but I do know that this is another way to test for M.S.  I had one done it was not that bad.  I like you started with speech problems, muscle twitches and double vision.  I was dx with CIS then MS when there were more lessions.   I hope this...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      I would ask about a spinal tap.  I am not sure what it is they test for but I do know that this is another way to test for M.S.  I had one done it was not that bad.  I like you started with speech problems, muscle twitches and double vision.  I was dx with CIS then MS when there were more lessions.   I hope this helps.......

       

       

  • Anonymous
    Loree
    Apr. 08, 2009

    I have always suffered from migraines since teen years two to three times a month. I would take Imitrex and it would go away after a few hrs. Two and a half years ago I started having extreme migraines every day for the next two 1/2 years. I was seeing a neurologist during this time who never prescribed an MRI. She prescribed 100mg of Imitrex or if really bad...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I have always suffered from migraines since teen years two to three times a month. I would take Imitrex and it would go away after a few hrs. Two and a half years ago I started having extreme migraines every day for the next two 1/2 years. I was seeing a neurologist during this time who never prescribed an MRI. She prescribed 100mg of Imitrex or if really bad the Imitrex injectibles 6mg. She also prescribed Topamax 100mg daily, vicodin 5-500mg when completely overwhelmed with pain. Early last fall 2008 I started having vision problems, very bad cognitive problems, was so tired all of the time and could not get out of bed. Very bad problems with walking....so I changed my neurologist and he got me into an MRi which he said that I have MS. I did tell him of my migraine history and still got the MS diagnosis. I am on Rebif and still have the really bad migraines, not as often but still just as severe. I have horrible cognitive issues that have not resolved and I am still very tired. What can I do?

    • Mandy Crest
      Health Guide
      Apr. 08, 2009

      Loree,

       

      Your migraine to MS story is eerily similar to my own. I lived with chronic migraines for 30 years. My first obvious MS attacks came on like blockbusters and it took 6 months to reach that diagnosis. At the same time, I started using the NTI Device, which was a tremendous help.

       

      I'll never know if there is a connection -- with the NTI or...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Loree,

       

      Your migraine to MS story is eerily similar to my own. I lived with chronic migraines for 30 years. My first obvious MS attacks came on like blockbusters and it took 6 months to reach that diagnosis. At the same time, I started using the NTI Device, which was a tremendous help.

       

      I'll never know if there is a connection -- with the NTI or the MS -- but since then my migraines have taken a back seat. I still get them, but they are much less frequent and less severe. I still find relief with Imitrex if I take it quickly enough.

       

      As for the fatigue and cognitive problems, they are quite common with MS. I strongly recommend that you discuss these with a neurologist. There are some lifestyle changes and medications that can help.

       

      I don't know what the stats are, but it seems that a lot of people with MS also have migraines. It's a real kick in the pants.

       

      Please come back and let us know how you're doing.