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what are complex migrains

I had an incident at work where my right arm went numb, I had problem speaking for a few seconds and felt like I might faint.  I was in the hospital for 5 days undergoing stroke tests.  I was diagnosed with complex migrains and was told that it produces stroke symptoms.  What exactly, or as close as I can get, is a complex migraine, and how can I treat it without medication?

Related Topics: Migraine, Stroke, Arm, Lightheadedness

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

General Medicine
1,458 Answers
65,078 Helpful Votes
I'm sorry to hear you went through such a scary episode, but I'm glad it was a migraine and not a stroke!

"Complex migraine" is a term used to identify rare types of migraine headaches that have specific symptoms not usually associated with a common or classic migraine.

For example, a classic migraine usually starts with a visual disturbance (called an "aura"), and then proceeds to a painful headache.

A complex migraine may fall under one of these types:
  • Hemiplegic, which includes temporary paralysis or weakness on one side of the body (often mimicking a stroke)
  • Retinal, which includes loss of vision in one eye
  • Basilar artery, which usually affects young women and includes symptoms such as confusion and difficulty speaking
  • Ophthalmoplegic, which includes pain and paralysis of the muscles surrounding the eye
  • Status migrainosus, which is a severe migraine that lasts for days

It sounds like you may have experienced a hemiplegic migraine or a basilar artery migraine.

Just because you had one migraine doesn't mean it will ever happen again. That's the tricky thing about these headaches. Often, doctors will wait to treat a patient until they've had multiple migraines over a course of time. That may be why you were sent home without any treatment.

If you have any questions about your migraine experience, I suggest you follow up with your primary health care provider. He or she can help you understand what happened and if you need treatment.

Wishing you all the best!

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I had basically the same thing happen to me. I was driving in high holiday traffic, during December, on the BQE in NYC for my nieces' Baptism. All of a sudden I was going numb on left side of my face and scalp as well as feeling weak but had no pain. Then bam my eyesight went and came back. I panicked and managed to pull over. I had no idea what was happening to me. I thought I was having a stroke and my heart was racing because I panicked. So it felt like a heart attack. My boyfriend drove us the rest of the way and I went to the ER to be checked out. I had an MRI, CAT scan, Echo, blood drawn for tests, etc... I was vamped pricked and prodded by 4 different doctors. Then the neurologist saw me and said he thinks I had an atypical complex migraine headache and a mild panic attack. I was told to avoid several things. All of which lead to migraine headaches and for me most are not avoidable but some are. Thing such as chocolate, too much sleep, too little sleep, caffeine, stress, alcohol, smoking, extreme fatigue, skipping meals, and bright or flickering lights. You better believe that the things this doctor listed pretty much was like a check list for my 6 hour drive. I worked a 10 hour shift, skipped dinner, drank 4 20 oz cups of coffee, and had a chocolate bar all while arguing over navigation issues with the BF. Also was stressing because I was the God mother and if we were late to the church my sister would never forgive me. I was also surprised to learn that when I would get stressed at work I would get a mild headache with a tick or fluttering eye muscle and "floaters" in my eye and that it was a migraine but with out the pain. I now keep a headache or migraine diary and try to figure out what my triggers are. The biggest ones for me are sleep, stress, and caffeine. Just know that you aren't alone in this and you might never even have another one again. It helps to just take care of yourself and avoid caffeine/stress.    

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