Living with migraines can be debilitating, but the more you know about your migraines, the easier they become to treat.
In some cases, you may want an MRI for a migraine provides insight that helps your doctor see how the brain, blood vessels, and nervous system work. To help you decide, here is an overview of the essentials.
Types of Migraines
Migraines can fall into several different categories, but two of the labels healthcare providers use when talking about headaches are primary and secondary. Primary headaches include migraines as well as tension and cluster headaches. These headaches have no underlying structural cause.
In contrast, secondary headaches include headaches caused by an underlying disease, an issue such as a brain tumor, aneurysm, sinusitis, meningitis, a concussion, or high amounts of pressure in your brain. In most cases, healthcare providers are more likely to suggest an MRI for a migraine or another imaging process for secondary headaches.
When You Need an MRI for a Migraine
If your healthcare provider notices any of the following issues, they may recommend an MRI for a migraine:
- Enlarged optic nerve
- Unresponsive or otherwise unusual reflex responses
- Asymmetrical weaknesses
- Lack of balance
- Double vision, blurred vision, loss of vision, etc.
- Confusion or similar signs of a concussion
Additionally, if your headaches are becoming worse, if they don’t respond to medications or if they are accompanied by a fever, your doctor may suggest an MRI for a migraine. Similarly, headaches in cancer patients, people over the age of 50, the immunosuppressed, or people who have recently suffered a head injury are also cause for concern. In these situations, doctors may also recommend an MRI.
These are not the only situations where doctors may suggest an MRI. If you have other medical problems, are overwhelmed with fears about your headaches, or get woken up by pain in the middle of the night, your doctor may order an MRI. To be on the safe side, be very open with your doctor about your symptoms and what you’re experiencing with your migraines.
Preparing for an MRI for a Migraine
An MRI for a migraine uses magnets and radio waves to produce detailed images of your brain. The process takes about 30 to 60 minutes and is completely painless.
To get the best images possible, most technologists use a contrast dye that may be injected or consumed orally. Talk to your doctor about allergies or kidney issues. Let them know if you have any metal implants, and don’t wear makeup to the imaging because it can contain metals that disrupt the process.
Scheduling an MRI for a Migraine
If you’re ready to get an MRI for migraines, consider going to an imaging center rather than a hospital. In most cases, because they focus on imaging, these centers have better equipment, have more experienced staff, and the prices tend to be lower.