Tell us about your symptoms and treatment experience. Take our survey here.

The Pain of a Migraine

As I lay as still as possible, trying to avoid exacerbating a level 8 migraine, it struck me that using the word "headache" to describe the pain of a migraine is a travesty. I have chronic migraine as well as a never-ending headache. They have as much in common as a marathon and a jog around the block.

Migraine pain varies from person to person (and from one attack to another in the same person). It can feel as if the brain is expanding and pushing on the skull, about to explode in volcanic pressure, knife-like stabbing, burning, or like a tightening vise that will cause the brain to implode. The pain is usually one-sided, though not always; many people describe localized pain plus an overall throbbing. Migraine pain can be located anywhere in the head — not just in the typical places you think of a headache, but inside or behind the eye, or in the face, teeth, roof of the mouth or ears.

The night I conceived of this post, the pain felt like a white-hot fire poker was drilling deep into my head about an inch above my left eyebrow, plus my entire head was throbbing like it was going to explode. Movement as small as rolling from my side to my back made the already excruciating pain feel like it might literally (and I do mean literally) kill me. As I write this a few days later, another migraine is creeping up. My whole head is pounding and the same fire poker is at work on my left temple, though not as hot or as deep as it was the other night.

Although the pain of a migraine is located in the head, it is not a headache! What does your migraine pain feel like? Please leave a comment and tell us about it. Let's show people who think migraine is "just a headache" how little the two have in common.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken our In America Survey yet?