If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you know it’s much more than just a simple headache. They can cause debilitating pain, nausea, light sensitivity, and other unpleasant symptoms that may last for hours to days. For many, migraines also have four stages, including warning signs that can occur days before the throbbing head pain begins.

At Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine, with locations in Arlington, Cleburne, and Fort Worth, Texas, we have a team of top-rated pain management specialists who are experts in effectively treating chronic pain conditions such as migraine headaches.

Read what our team of experts have to say about the four stages of migraine headaches and the symptoms you might experience.

1. Prodrome

The initial stage of a migraine, often referred to as the prodrome, may begin several hours to days before the migraine reaches its greatest intensity. Most individuals have prodromal symptoms but identifying them can be tricky since they often seem unrelated to the headache.

Your symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained fatigue and/or excessive yawning
  • Abdominal symptoms such as nausea
  • Changes in stool, including constipation or diarrhea
  • Muscle stiffness or soreness, especially in the neck
  • Fluid retention, bloating
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sounds, and/or smells

Many patients also report experiencing very vivid dreams before a migraine and/or mood swings that may include unexplained sadness, irritability, anxiety, etc.

Taking medications or other therapeutic steps during the prodromal stage may help stop the progression of a migraine.

2. Aura

The aura stage of a migraine typically occurs after the prodromal symptoms. This stage usually lasts for several minutes to about an hour but may continue throughout the migraine cycle.

Your symptoms might include:

  • Visual changes such as flashing lights, zig-zag lines, spots, blurriness, and even partial loss of vision
  • Vertigo or a sense that the room is spinning
  • Confusion and difficulty forming sentences
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Tingling or numbness in the face or extremities
  • Hearing sounds or smelling odors that aren’t present

About one-third of migraine sufferers experience the aura stage. Note that other neurological conditions, including stroke and/or brain tumors, can cause similar symptoms that may indicate a medical emergency.

3. Headache

The headache associated with migraines usually starts gradually and worsens with time. These throbbing, typically one-sided headaches usually last for hours but may go on for a day or more. They can be quite severe and may be accompanied by light and sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, etc.

4. Postdrome

This stage is the final step in a migraine, usually lasts for about a day, and may include symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Body aches
  • Dizziness

Many individuals describe this stage as a “migraine hangover.” It’s important to note also that you may experience a migraine that includes all or only a few of the stages. You may, for instance, have all the symptoms of stage one, two, and four but never develop head pain.

The experts at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine are ready to help you identify what may be triggering your migraines and can design a treatment strategy to relieve your symptoms. Schedule your appointment today by calling the office or requesting a visit online.