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only my 2nd migraine ever, so far 4 days without stopping, not sure what to do


I am new to suffering migraines and I am a little anxious and scared about what is happening since I don't really know what to expect. I am a 29-year old female, had my first headache a couple weeks ago and didn't know what it was, so I went to the ER where they said it was a complex migraine. I had the same symptoms again starting 4 days ago and they haven't stopped. I went to acupuncture after 2 days and I think it just made it worse. I went to the ER again last night because I read that a migraine longer than 72 hours can be dangerous. They didn't do any tests since they had just done them 2 weeks ago, just gave me some pain meds which helped slightly at the time (fioricet and toradol), but today I still have a moderately bad headache along with some numbness/tingling feeling in my left arm/hand, left cheek/jaw, and both calves. I don't actually lose feeling, it just feels like when my leg is about to fall asleep, a kind of tingly feeling that comes and goes. I had this feeling before my first headache, and then again for the last almost 2 days along with the other symptoms. The headache itself is a constant aching pressure feeling all over my head, sometimes it is sharper at some points then others. I was kind of confused because it's not a throbbing pain and it's on both sides of the head, but the doctor said it was a "complex migraine" because of my other symptoms. I also had a lot of sensitivity to light and sound, although that has been less bad today than it was for the previous 3 days. Also a lot of nausea and could only stomach bread, rice, and potatoes for the first couple days but that is less bad today. Still some dizziness but less severe. Anyway, I am just confused and worried and wondering if this is something to be concerned about and what I should do. Should I just wait it out since some of the symptoms seem to be getting a little better? How much longer should I wait to see if it gets better before going in to the ER again?

Thanks for your help!

  1. I am so sorry to hear that you are in such pain and not getting any relief. Unfortunately, the ER is only going to rule out other causes for your pain. Diagnosing migraine is a process of elimination. There is no test to diagnose migraine. It is unfortunate that your ER didn't give you the name and number of a good headache specialist. That's the kind of doctor you need to see in order to get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

    Start here to find a specialist who can treat you:

    Those ER docs told you something that isn't true and is a huge pet peeve of mine. The gold standard for diagnosing migraine is the ICHD-3 that is developed by the International Headache Society. There are over 200 different headache disorders and quite a few different types of migraine. Nowhere in the ICHD is there a diagnosis of "complex migraine". It doesn't exist.

    While I am not a headache specialist and cannot begin to offer you a diagnosis, I can share with you where to look in order to find some answers for yourself so you will at least know when doctors are feeding you a line of bull.

    Here's a link to the full text PDF of the ICHD-3:

    As for the pain you are currently in...
    A lot of patients find that their pain returns in one form or another even after a visit to the ER. While you are waiting for your first appointment with a specialist (prepare for a wait of 90 days or more), please see your primary care physician. Share with him or her what occurred during the ER and ask for help. A PCP should be able to prescribe medication that will abort a migraine in process. If they continue at this rate, your PCP should also be able to start you on a course of preventive medication (most likely Topamax, Depakote, Elavil, Propranolol, Verapamil, or some other medication depending on your symptoms and any other conditions).

    At any rate, don't just accept that you have to suffer. Be a pest. This is a situation where the squeeky wheel gets the grease.

    I hope your pain goes away very soon.

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