What Scan Is Best For Migraines?

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What Scan Is Best For Migraines?

What Scan Is Best For Migraines?

Perhaps, about one in every five women and nearly one in fifteen men in this world have migraines, a kind of headache, or head pain! 

Migraines mostly affect those between 20 to 50 years of age, and they know how dilapidating it can be! The main cause is unknown to us, but medical experts say that migraines occur due to temporary abnormal brain activities impacting the blood vessels, nerve signals, and chemicals in your brain.

Menstruation can cause a migraine, and so can stress and tension. Migraine can be a symptom of sinus problems! It can appear due to heavy physical and mental exertion and also be a sign of internal disease or disorder. 

A scan cannot show all kinds of migraines and their cause. It can only reveal whether your migraine indicates an internal health problem and what! So doctors typically do not recommend a scan for migraine unless they predict a hidden health abnormality. 

When they do ask for an imaging study, they commonly pick a CT (Computed tomography) scan or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). These two diagnostic modalities come top of the list of which scan is best for migraines or headaches.        

Imaging Scans are Not Helpful For Migraines: Why?

When you have a migraine, you feel a throbbing pain in one side of your head or a pulsing sensation, alongside nausea or vomiting, and sometimes with aura, the condition where you have visual disturbances and tingling on your face, arms, or legs. It may last for hours to days! Only the right medication, lifestyle and dietary changes, and self-help remedies work herein.       

Your doctor may have many patients with headaches, some with absurd chronic headaches for the last few days and some with a common tension-causing one. Recommending a scan to both categories cant serve your doctors’ treatment course. All headaches do not show up in a scan; Migraines do not show up in a scan, to be precise!  

Perhaps an imaging test cannot help your headache caused by unclear results in your previous scan! It cannot help if your headache is a cluster, i.e., a headache occurring in a pattern for weeks or months. In fact, neither of these headaches is life-threatening, nor does it need to pursue an expensive MRI scan or a CT scan that involves radiation risks. Your doctor can assess you on the first visit and recommend medications that work instead!      

Difference Between Migraines and Other Disease-Causing Headaches: Unveiled!

Migraines take the stage in four phases, namely, –

1. Prodrome, 

2. Aura, 

3. Attack, and 

4. Post-drome. 

Prodrome is the pre-monitory or pre-headache phase where you experience mood swings, constipation, increased thirst & urination, neck stiffness, etc. 

Aura is the phase where you encounter reversible symptoms of your nervous system, such as speaking difficulty, vision loss, numbness in one side of your face, and more. 

Then, the attack phase is where you have severe pain in one or both sides of your head, while the postdrome phase makes it feel like you are drained out or confused.   

Not everyone goes through all four phases, and they are often untreated. Doctors can only try to reduce your pain when you have migraines and suggest self-care modifications. 

On the other note, 

A disease-causing headache, also called a secondary headache, involves a sudden chronic headache that acts differently from primary frequent headaches or migraines you have! Your doctor examines and sees whether your headache is an outcome of –

  1. Stroke, 
  2. Head Injury, 
  3. Brain Tumor, 
  4. Blood Clots in your brain, 
  5. Acute Sinusitis, 
  6. Aneurysms, 
  7. Arteriovenous Malformations or something else.

A headache caused by any psychiatric disease also falls under the category of secondary or disease-causing headache, such as those resulting from –

  1. Anxiety Disorder, 
  2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,
  3. Bipolar Mood Disorder, 
  4. Dysthymia, 
  5. Panic Attacks, 
  6. Agoraphobia, and more.  

Such headaches require a proper diagnosis to determine the exact cause and initiate a definite treatment accordingly! In such cases, your doctor is most likely to order a scan.        

CT and MRI: Two Efficient Diagnostic Modalities That Screen Headaches and Their Deadly Hidden Causes!

Both CT scans and MRIs are common to use when tracing the cause of an abnormal headache. Each has its benefits and setbacks. 

While an MRI is too expensive and inaccessible to many locations, a CT involves radiation exposure and can bring mild side effects to further health complications. 

While a CT includes several X-rays positioned at different angles to create cross-sectional images of your brain, an MRI entails magnets to screen your brain’s anatomy and functions. 

A CT scan is quick and easily available in all healthcare centers. It works great during emergencies, like a headache caused by a stroke or head injury. 

Doctors also use CT scans to screen blood clots in your brain and structural malformations. 

If your doctors predict that your headache is caused by a deep and complex abnormality in your brain, like a tumor in the soft tissues of your brain, MRI is their most plausible pick. It is because an MRI offers more clarity to brain imaging, given that our brain is made of various soft tissues. 

An MRI can differentiate an abnormal mass or lesions from soft tissue. MRI scans are prevalent in diagnosing aneurysms and also a few psychiatric disorders.

However, people with metallic implants in their bodies cannot get an MRI! The presence of these implants during the magnet play can lead to inaccurate results and may also cause injury. 

Who Needs an Imaging Test For Headaches? 

Your doctor recommends a scan for your headache when –

  1. You have a headache only after you go physically active,
  2. Your headache does not disappear even after administering the prescribed medicines,
  3. You have had a persistent headache for a long time now, and the headache feels like something is bursting from inside, 
  4. Your headache comes along with seizure, movement-related or balance-related problems, speech changes, etc., 
  5. You have a chronic headache only on one specific part of your head and nowhere else,
  6. You witness an alteration in the intensity and frequency of your headache often,
  7. You find a change in the headache pattern soon after you have crossed your 50s,
  8. You not only get headaches but are also immunosuppressed, 
  9. You have cancer and a new headache just popped up in the last few days, or 
  10. Other health conditions like chest pain, fever, high blood pressure, and infections accompany your headache.  

Summing Up:

Thus, the bottom line is there lay no such scan that can come to the list of what scan is best for migraines in particular, but when it comes to which scan is best for headache, CT and MRI appears in the spotlight. 

If you have a migraine or other kind of headache, consult a doctor and get immediate help.

If your doctor recommends a Brain MRI in Chandigarh to diagnose the cause of your headache, MRI Chandigarh can assist you. Yes. Our online platform allows you to book scans from the best radiology labs in Chandigarh as per your schedule and at discounted fares.   


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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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