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The Neural Theory of Migraine

Migraine neural theory

The migraine neural theory hypothesis takes a slightly different approach to the causes of migraine headache disorders. Those who support this theory believe that a migraine is actually a dysfunction of the nervous system and an unstable threshold in the brain.

This threshold is exceeded when external¬† or internal stressors increase thus producing a migraine headache.¬† To explain it clearer in layman’s terms, it is like one part of your body telling you not to step over this line but yet you do it anyway and then have to suffer the consequences, all these of course are happening unconsciously.

This neural theory of migraine also believes there is a genetic predisposition for migraine headache problems. It is been confirmed to be quite true that migraine sufferers do often have a strong family history migraine. To further support the theory of a migraine and genetic predisposition, one reliable study found that a location on chromosome 19 was actually related to a unique type of migraine.

Another aspect of the neural theory of migraine is the belief that migraine comprises of a unique constellation of symptoms, one of which is often misdiagnosed since it is too difficult for the average primary care physician to call.

Part of this migraine neural theory also believes that migraine is a result of an abnormal or irregular nervous system outflow, a burst of electric energy, which can trigger or kindle a variety of areas in the brain. Subsequently a variety of symptoms is then produced, something like a microscopic lightning striking inside the brain.

This can result in many diverse symptoms occurring such as:

  • severe headache associated with nausea and vomiting
  • hallucinations including imagined sounds, sights, tastes or even smells
  • a variation of migraine may be experienced that is also associated with abdominal queasiness often referred to as “abdominal Migraine.”

This neural theory of migraine is also able to explain changes in behavior or mood which can all be symptoms of irritation in various sections of the brain such as:

  • an essentially untriggered sense of elation
  • depression
  • anger
  • increased or decreased libido
  • hunger

In addition, unsteadiness and imbalance as well as even numbness and weakness can often be ascribed to atypical migraines.

Researches have also documented that there are imbalances of glucose mechanism in different areas of the brain during the migraine phase which theoretically suggests that various sections of the brain are “selectively vulnerable” for certain migraine sufferers. This may possibly explain why there is a tendency for one side of the head versus the other to be affected during migraine attacks.

In complicated migraine and depending on which parts of the brain are affected at a given time, migraine sufferers may suffer symptoms such as:

  • weakness
  • numbness
  • language or speech dysfunction
  • clumsiness
  • unsteadiness

These migraine episodes can quite often mimic stroke symptoms and cause confusion to physicians who are not qualified neurologists. Yet, when the migraine attack has subsided, within minutes to hours the neurological symptoms can just simply disappear as well.

As an example, psychiatrists have often used the concept of “kindling” to explain the causes of major depression. Frequently, the theory believes there is irritation of a specific part of the brain,usually the temporal lobes, that can explain changes in behavior.

Similarly, once one area of the brain is kindled or the threshold is dropped, then other areas of the brain can likewise become irritable, and thus trigger chemical changes of the brain.