What testing can be done to find out what is causing my migraines? I have had multiple MRIs over the past 12 yrs but yet no answers on what’s causing them. Is there something else out there that my doctor might be missing? Thanks for your help, Dora.
Let’s start by clarifying the difference between cause and triggers. Migraine is a genetic neurological disease caused by genetic predisposition and an overly sensitive brain that responds to our triggers by starting a wave of irregular electrical activity that sweeps across the brain. Triggers are external stimuli that bring on - trigger - a migraine attack.
Imaging studies such as MRI’s are done to rule out other causes of our symptoms. Causes such as stroke, aneurysm, and tumor. The studies are performed because there’s no diagnostic test to confirm migraine. It’s diagnosed by looking at personal and family medical history, reviewing symptoms, conducting a neurological exam, and ruling out other causes for the symptoms. That’s called a “diagnosis of exclusion.”
Trigger identification and management is a vital part of migraine management. Some triggers, once identified, are avoidable. Others aren’t, but it’s still helpful to know what’s triggering migraines. Here are links to information about migraine triggers:
- 10 Common Triggers of Migraine
- Common Migraine Triggers
- Two Viral Migraine Related Issues That Doctors Often Don’t Mention
A migraine diary is vitally important to helping identify triggers and spot patterns. You can read about keeping a diary and download a free diary workbook in Your Migraine and Headache Diary.
Thanks for your excellent question,
David Watson, MD, and Teri Robert
About Ask the Clinician:
Dr. David Watson is a UCNS certified migraine and headache specialists and director of the Headache Center at West Virginia University. He and Lead Health Guide Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about _ Dr. Watson_ or more about _** Teri Robert** _.
If you have a question, please click** HERE. Accepted questions will be answered by publishing the answers here. Due to the number of questions submitted, no questions will be answered privately, and questions will be accepted only when submitted via THIS FORM**. Please do not submit questions via email, private message, or blog comments. Thank you.
|**_Please note: We cannot diagnose, suggest specific treatment, or handle emergencies via the Internet. Please do not ask us to diagnose; see your physician for diagnosis._** For an overview of how we can help and questions we can and can't answer, please see _**[Seeking Migraine and Headache Diagnoses and Medical Advice](https://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/c/9924/162100/migraine-headache-diagnosing)** _.|
We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q & A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full Disclaimer.
Do you have questions about Migraine? Reader questions are answered by UCNS certified Migraine and headache specialist Dr. David Watson, and award-winning patient educator and advocate Teri Robert. Questions may be submitted via our submission form. Accepted questions will be answered by publishing the answers in our Ask the Clinician column. For an overview of how we can help and questions we can and can’t answer, please see Seeking Migraine and Headache Diagnoses and Medical Advice.