what does a headache look like on an MRI?

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what does a headache look like on an MRI?

Unveiling: What does a headache look like on an MRI? 


Humankind is fortunate that headaches, even when too intense, are not dangerous or life-threatening.


Someone who does not have a severe headache cannot understand how scary it is!  At that time, you feel like doing anything & everything that can make you feel a little relief! You want to know the cause of the headache, and a brain MRI may seem a feasible way to derive the answers.


Let me tell you that the cause of a migraine is not identifiable in an MRI or whatsoever brain scan it be! Nor can it in any way reduce your headache!


Your doctors will not typically recommend an MRI when you approach them for curing your acute headache or migraine!

They shall only recommend an MRI therein if they predict an underlying hidden abnormality that culminates headache, somewhat like a red flag. For this, they shall discuss your headache symptoms, your medical history, and your neurological condition!


To answer your question,

A headache looks like white spots on your brain, called white matter hyperintensities. They are nothing but lesions viewed by increasing the brightness, and they may vary in size & location! Sometimes, they may appear similar to a condition like a stroke due to the alteration of resting blood flow in your cerebral region.

Halt please if you want to know more about MRI & headaches! This blog shall give you a thorough sketch, I bet!

What is an MRI & What does it show?

The diagnostic approach that involves strong magnets & radio waves to generate detailed images of your internal body parts is called an MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Test!

It is one of the safest diagnostic modalities today, involving no invasion and no radiation! The test lay conducted on an outpatient basis in a hospital, clinic, or radiology center.


What you shall get to see here is a long narrow tube-like machine that not only gives you an in-depth view of your internal organs & tissues but also offers a rough noise during the scan!

Perhaps, that noise gets on the nerves, especially when you lay still in one position and cannot even move as per instruction, and the creaking jackhammer sound makes you all the more frustrated. It is why MRI is often called the necessary evil. You may not like the experience, but your doctors shall certainly appreciate the imaging that helps them to plan the appropriate treatment!

MRI is the diagnostic test meant mainly for a detailed analysis of your soft tissues, that are not possible in other diagnostic approaches. It can show –

  • Tumors and Cancers,
  • Soft tissues injuries, like Ligament Damage,
  • Brain Diseases & Disorders,
  • Heart Diseases & Disorders,
  • Abnormalities in the musculoskeletal system,
  • Cysts, Stones, & Inflammations,
  • Bone & Bone Marrow Diseases,
  • Ear & Eye Problems,
  • Spine Cord injuries & herniated discs,
  • Injuries & Diseases of your digestive organs,
  • Injuries & Diseases of your reproductive organs, and myriad more!

Actually, MRI can show everything, from head to toe, even your nerves, blood vessels & bloodstream!

When do you need an MRI to diagnose your headache?

You must understand that you cannot get an MRI scan to diagnose a migraine or headache; just to satisfy your restless mind. Your doctors may order it only when they see that –

  • Regular & persistent headaches for a certain period,
  • Headache is brought about by coughing, heavy weight lifting, stress, sexual activities,
  • You face an increase in the frequency or change in the intensity of your headache,
  • Having additional symptoms like high fever, high blood pressure, and body cramps alongside your headache,
  • You have a headache only when you get physically active,
  • Your headache occurs on one side of the head only,
  • Your headache lay accompanied by speech changes, loss of control over your movements, or seizures,
  • You have a sudden headache giving you a sensation that something has burst inside your head,
  • Your headache patterns change when you are above the age of 50,
  • You already had a CT scan for migraine & the result of the scan was inconclusive,
  • Your headache is unusual and not one caused by tension, or
  • Your headache signals an underlying structural defect!

Is an MRI really necessary for a condition like a headache?


MRI is not meant to diagnose headaches or migraine, to be honest!


If your doctor recommends it, you have to consider it necessary; no doubt!

There lay two different types of headaches depending on which your doctor shall indulge in MRI recommendation, and they are –

  • Primary Headaches that has got nothing to do with structural defects or internal diseases but may occur due to tension, heavy work, or tiredness; these include your normal migraine pain and then comes;
  • Secondary Headaches that lay triggered by a disease or structural abnormality & are not the basic ones to go away on their own within a few hours!

As you can already see, MRI is necessary & so your doctor orders it when you have a secondary headache and not the primary one!


When you approach your doctors to secure relief from a headache, and they discover some abnormal condition existing through a physical test, such an instance is likely to prompt them in suggesting an MRI scan. It is because they want to take a closer & better look into your brain structure and see if their predictions match!

The abnormalities they discover herein can be –

  • Double Vision,
  • Vision Loss,
  • Abnormal reflexes,
  • The swollen optic nerve,
  • Unsteady gait,
  • Numbness on one side of your body,
  • Weird pupil reflex,
  • Confusion,
  • Difficulty writing or speaking, and
  • Difficulty walking or performing a movement.

Recent studies have also revealed that MRI scans can picture a reduction in the cortical thickness for some migraine patients and sometimes also the reduction in the surface area of the pain-processing part of the brain. When an MRI scan is done on patients who do not have migraine, this problem does not appear!


MRI, these days, is helping doctors diagnose the effects of migraine, I must say!

Wrap Up:

Are you the one like me suffering from immense headaches, and your doctor suggests an MRI? Your search is over because you have already come to the right place! It’s time you book your MRI scan from one of the best radiology labs in Chandigarh, only at www.mrichandigarh.com!

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About author
Hi, I am Alka Tiwari, Founder & Patient Care Executive at MRIChandigarh.com. Helping you get the diagnostics scans services like MRI, CT Scan, UltraSound & PET Scan, etc at the best price. At MRIChandigarh's blog, I will be writing to create awareness and to educate you about how and where to get diagnostic scans done in Chandigarh at the best price with best-in-class services.
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