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Adult Abdominal Migraine?

Is anyone familiar with Adult Abdominal Migraine? I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the last time I saw my gastroenterologist, he suggested perhaps I was also having adult abdominal Migraine. I see my headache specialist soon and will be asking him about it.

Today, I am having a weather-triggered Migraine without aura with associated head pain and sensitivities. But, I have also been having severe abdominal pain which is oddly different from the severe abdominal pain I get with IBS . I have been dealing with severe IBS the last several weeks. I also get severe menstrual cramps, but these don't feel exactly like those either (and I should not be having cramps now and no-there is no possibility I am pregnant). It is strange to have cramping pain that severe in the same area I get both IBS and menstrual cramps, yet they feel somehow different. I'm wondering if I DO in fact have AAM, but I can't find much info about it.

I noticed Dr. Lipton was referenced in the article here on Perhaps I will pursue that avenue. I would love to hear if anyone has any input or can direct me in an are of research.

Thanks! Kelly

  1. Kelly,

    Thanks for your post. Though abdominal migraine is most frequently seen in children and teens, it's definitely possible that your symptoms match those seen in those populations.

    Here's another article from the website about abdominal migraine you might find helpful:

    It's also possible that you're suffering from some gastrointestinal side effects that are part and parcel of a migraine attack for many, many patients. Here's more information on gastroparesis:

    I haven't been diagnosed with AAM before but I'm guessing some of our members will pipe up to chat with you about this soon! In the meantime, be as gentle with yourself as you can and let us know how you're doing.


    Janet G.
    "The Migraine Girl"

    1. My doctor has said likely I have AAM's. I have had my insides checked for this and that, scans, etc and the all clear. I would say my symptom's started about four years ago right before my aura migraines decided to come back after many years. I told my doc I get severe nausea to the point it somewhat hurts, mid line abdomen pain that comes and goes, absolutely no appetite which is bad because I can go a week without food when this occurs. Likely I am hungry but the thought of food during this...
      I usually get this either in between migraines or before a big aura migraine. My doc suggested anti-nausea with my regular pain meds, the combo works sometimes if I catch the start if it all on time.

      1. I have recently been diagnosed with AAM at age 52. It had been going on for over 6 years, but they seem to come in clusters and then go away for a bit. I have seen 3 separate GI doctors who told me everything looked okay and it must be microscopic colitis, yet every colonoscopy and every other test under the sun came back normal (even very specialized tests for Acute Intermittent Porphyria). So given some of the things it could have been, I'm relieved it's migraines, but they can still be very debilitating. Curious what other AAM sufferers have for symptoms and if you've identified any triggers. I haven't been able to determine triggers. I will get this "weird" feeling in my abdomen which turns quickly into unbelievable pain and then I know shortly I'll have explosive diarrhea. Would love to hear from others.

        1. OMG Kathrynjtm, you have just described something that has plagued me since I was 19 years old and has gone undiagnosed for 26yrs!!!! I have been tested for EVERYTHING. Ultrasounds, barium x ray, cilia function scan, food allergies, on and on and on. The closest anyone has come to explaining my situation is that I have polyps in my gall bladder and maybe if those get in the way it causes a gall bladder attack. I suffer from head migraines, no aura, just intense pain, also since my late teens. My mother suffers from migraine, with aura + pain. My head migraines have increased and changed slightly so I started doing some research. Until now my migraines have been very manageable and I know that they are hormone related. It's looking like the hormone shift of perimenopause/menopause, plus living in an area with strong barometric changes means I'm in for a few pain filed years... But I digress. While looking for the latest news in migraines I stumbled on the term "abdominal Migraine" which I'd never heard of before. Certainly no doctor has ever suggested it... Like you, I haven't been able to determine any triggers and like you, my pain starts off as a "weird" (but very distinct) feeling in my abdomen which quickly evolves into explosive diarrhea and then severe abdominal pain. The pain is generally in the centre of my abdomen and nothing such as positional movement, pressure or anything will alleviate it. Shortly after getting off the toilet, I usually wind up on the floor, absolutely grey and in a cold sweat until it passes. Luckily for me, it usually passes after about 20 minutes. Any more time and I would likely pass out as I would compare the pain to slightly more painful than a full labour contraction except that it is constant and "bearing down" doesn't provide any relief. I am at the mercy of this pain until it passes. I have instinctively always felt that the diarrhea was a result of the pain as opposed to a symptom of the attack itself. I am often sore and tender to the touch the next day. The only reason I know this is that the first time it happened I went straight to the doctors office and when he did an abdominal examination I nearly jumped off the table. (But other than applying pressure to the abdomen, I wouldn't notice any tenderness in day to day activities). Because of how I reacted with that first attack and subsequent exam, the doctor diagnosed me at the time with a gall bladder attack. Of course, the tests that he sent me for came back negative. And so for years, about 3 or 4 times a year, I would have these attacks and go for tests and all tests would come back fine. I eventually gave up on getting a diagnosis. And luckily for me, these attacks have almost disappeared. It has been years since I had one (knock on wood).

          My attacks always happen at night after I have been asleep for 3-4 hours. Usually between 2:30-3:30 in the morning. Never at any other time. Ever.

          Fast forward to last August. My then 11 year old woke up in the middle of the night in serious abdominal pain. I took her to the hospital suspecting appendicitis. 23hrs and one emergency surgery later, she wound up having 160cm of small intestine resected. No one could figure out what was wrong with her and once 6 doctors and the head of the Children's Hospital Radiology department weighed in, it was decided she had a bowel obstruction and in to surgery she went. Instead of an obstruction, they found her intestine tied in a knot and necrotic. The surgeons said they'd never seen anything like it and were dumbfounded as intestines don't usually have the capability to spontaneously tie themselves up. She has made a full recovery (minus part of her bowel) and 7mos post-op, has had nothing of the kind happen again.

          My question is, does anyone know what the physiology of an intestinal migraine is? Is it a form of cramping? Is it a restriction of blood flow? Is it possible that she had a migraine and that caused her intestines to turn and twist so much that the circulation was cut off? The fact that no one can tell me what happened to my daughter worries me. It would be nicer to have a reason why this happened!

          Any thoughts or contributions are GREATLY appreciated. I can't believe I may have found an answer to my very strange and peculiar problem!!! And possibly and explanation for my daughter???....

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