Migraine Timeline – Detailing the Phases of a Migraine Episode

migraine-timeline-detailing-the-phases-of-a-migraine-episodeWhether you struggle with migraines yourself or know someone who does, you hopefully realize that a migraine is not just a really bad headache.  A migraine episode is a complicated neurological condition that affects over a billion people worldwide, making it the third most prevalent illness in the world.

Aside from the best-known symptom of a debilitating headache, migraine sufferers also deal with many other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, numbness or tingling in the face or extremities, extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, vertigo, visual disturbances and more.  Migraines can have a variety of triggers and unfold in phases that, when migraine sufferers learn to recognize them, will be a sign of what’s to come. It is important to note that not all migraine sufferers will experience all of these phases and that episodes can vary widely even for the same person.

Phase 1 – Prodrome

The first phase of a migraine attack serves as a warning that an episode might be lurking right around the corner.  The symptoms of the prodrome phase can last for a few days to a few hours. This phase is also referred to as the “pre-headache” or “premonitory” phase since it signals what is to come.  Possible symptoms during this first migraine phase can include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Food cravings
  • Excessive yawning
  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty with concentration, focus, and finding words
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Changes in bathroom habits, including constipation, diarrhea, and an increased need to urinate

For some migraine sufferers, recognizing some of these pre-headache symptoms allows them to take the necessary steps to either prevent an attack (I.e. by taking their prescribed medication) or lessen the potential effects.

To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book Natural and Drug-Free Ways to End Your Migraines by clicking the image below.

Natural relief of migraines in Taylor Texas

Phase 2 – Aura

Approximately one-third of migraine sufferers will experience the aura phase in the progression of their attack, and at that, it may not occur each time.  People experiencing an aura may describe it as:

  • Temporary vision loss or blind spots
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness, tingling, prickling, stinging or burning sensations on the face or extremities
  • Visual disturbances such as seeing spots, lines, waves, or sparkles
  • Hypersensitivity to touch
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Changes in hearing, including a decrease/loss in hearing or auditory hallucinations

Similar to the prodrome phase, a migraine aura can serve as a warning that a migraine episode is on the edge of developing.  If present, auras can be as brief as 5 minutes to as long as an hour.

Phase 3 – Headache

The headache phase is the most notorious one of a migraine attack for good reason – this phase is often the most debilitating one.  What many people may not realize is that symptoms are not limited to only the head, other parts and systems of the body can also be impacted during the headache phase.  A person might experience:

  • Typically a one-sided (unilateral) throbbing, pulsating, severe headache that is made worse by any physical activity or exertion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Jaw and teeth pain
  • Confusion
  • Vertigo
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Heightened sensitivity to smell, sound, and light

This phase can last from between 4 and 72 hours, which can be excruciating.  During this phase, most migraine sufferers seek out a quiet, dark room to lay down in to weather the storm.  It is also possible, though less common, to experience a migraine attack without this headache phase occurring – this is often referred to as a silent migraine.

Phase 4 – Postdrome

The postdrome phase is commonly called the migraine hangover.  It’s the period of time from 1 to 2 days following the headache phase that leaves a migraine sufferer feeling the aftereffects of the attack.  Postdrome symptoms can include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Cognitive changes such as a reduced ability to think, reason, speak, and understand
  • Lowered mood levels
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Body aches
  • Dizziness
  • Lingering sensitivity to light

80% of migraine sufferers will experience some of these symptoms which can be just as disabling as the headache itself.

Migraine Relief, Naturally!

If you’re a migraine sufferer yourself or a friend or loved one of someone affected, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the anxiety of when the next attack might occur.  You may also be concerned about the long-term ramifications of medication usage or are simply more natural-minded. If you’ve not yet heard of upper cervical chiropractic care and how it is helping countless migraine sufferers get back to a better quality of life, then let us be the first to introduce you to this branch of chiropractic care.

Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses its attention on a particular area of the spine – where the neck and head form a junction.  This area is important for several reasons:

  • When properly aligned, allows for normal blood flow, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) flow, and neurological function to occur.
  • Gives both structural support and a wide range of movement for our head.

The atlas vertebra is positioned at this critical junction.  It provides a layer of protection for the brainstem and allows for the freedom of movement of the head.  Because it is so freely movable the atlas can be particularly vulnerable to misaligning, creating a compromise in the functions mentioned above.  This can lead to the development of migraine symptoms and be an undetected root cause of the problem.

If you are suffering from migraines and have not had your neck checked by an upper cervical chiropractor, then that is the next logical step towards finding natural relief.  Before resigning yourself to a lifetime of medication use or more invasive migraine treatment options, identifying and correcting problems with the upper cervical spine might give you the results you’re looking for.  Atlas Chiropractic offers patients a complimentary consultation to see if our approach will be a good fit for you.





To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Seivert call 512-352-1300 or just click the button below.

Schedule a Chiropractic Appointment in Taylor Texas with Dr. Sean Seivert


if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.