Do You Need an MRI to Diagnose Migraine? 

MRI to Diagnose Migraine: Migraine attacks are more than just intense headache pain, as anybody who has had one knows. More than 40 million individuals in the United States, including children, suffer from this prevalent neurological disorder. Many migraine sufferers, however, go undiagnosed. A healthcare expert would most likely identify this chronic medical condition based on your symptoms and medical history, as well as a physical examination. An imaging scan isn’t required to diagnose migraine, although in certain circumstances, your doctor may prescribe an MRI. We’ll go over why an MRI scan for migraine can aid with diagnosis and what a neurologist looks for on an MRI scan for migraine.

What role do MRIs have in migraine diagnosis?

If you suffer frequent migraine attacks, your doctor may prescribe an MRI scan of your brain, as well as:

They’re not improving after treatment, and you’re experiencing other symptoms.

An MRI scan produces clear images of the inside of your body by combining radio waves with a strong magnetic field. MRIs are different from X-rays and CT scans in that they do not use radiation to create the images. To produce a crisper image of the region being scanned, a contrast dye (that you drink or that is injected) may be used before or during the examination. Your doctor will use an MRI for migraine to examine your brain to see if there are any changes to the normal brain structure.

MRI scans, on the other hand, aren’t always used to diagnose migraine. Researchers aren’t sure if changes in the brain cause migraines or if everyone who suffers from migraines has the same brain changes. The use of MRIs in migraine research is still being investigated. An MRI scan can provide a very detailed image of the brain and reveal areas that other types of imaging scans cannot. This can assist your doctor in ruling out other potential migraine or headache causes.

On an MRI, what does a migraine look like?

MRI scans of the brain in some migraine sufferers may reveal white spots or areas. Lesions or irregular areas in the white matter of the brain cause these. White matter tissue is mostly made up of nerves and is found deep within the brain. Everyone gets a few small brain lesions as they get older; it’s a natural part of life. They can occur when blood supply to a tiny part of the brain is decreased or interrupted.

Some brain cells may be damaged, resulting in a lesion. Researchers aren’t clear why migraine sufferers get these lesions. These lesions appear to be more prevalent in migraine sufferers who have an aura. In certain persons, chronic or severe migraine might result in more lesions than usual. The white matter lesions, on the other hand, do not generate migraine symptoms. They’re also not connected to dementia or memory loss in older folks, according to researchers Trusted Source.

Medical experts also utilize MRI scans of the brain to figure out why some individuals have migraines while others don’t. Researchers looked at how the brain responds to stimulation of sight, smell, and pain in a 2015 study. They discovered that migraine sufferers may have abnormal or more sensitive brain reactions to typical stimuli.

What additional types of imaging tests are used to diagnose migraines?                 

Because MRI scans may offer a comprehensive and detailed view of the brain’s anatomy, they are frequently utilized to aid in the diagnosis of migraine. They’re also utilized to figure out what causes migraines and how they affect the brain.

Other imaging tests that might be used to diagnose or research migraine headaches are:

X-ray. The use of an X-ray to diagnose migraine is uncommon. If you’ve had a recent accident or trauma to the head or face that may be causing headache discomfort, your doctor may prescribe a head X-ray. Doctors will sometimes combine X-rays and CT scans to gain a clearer view of the skull and brain.

CT scan is a type of x-ray. Your doctor may suggest a CT scan to rule out some medical disorders that might be causing headache discomfort. Brain tumors, sinus obstructions, brain aneurysms, brain bleeds, and stroke are among the underlying diseases.

An MRA scan is a kind of magnetic resonance angiography. An MRA scan resembles an MRI scan. It varies from an MRI in that it focuses for abnormalities in the blood arteries of the brain, such as an aneurysm or a clot.

What is the prognosis for persons who have MRI evidence of migraine?

Migraine headaches are a frequent and treatable kind of pain. It is, however, usually long-term and chronic. The majority of migraine sufferers experience four-hour bouts. A single migraine episode can continue anywhere from 72 hours to a week without treatment or in extreme situations. Your doctor may suggest that you try a few different drugs to see which one works best for you. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), are the first line of treatment for certain migraine sufferers. Changes in your lifestyle and avoiding your migraine triggers (if you can identify them) may also be beneficial. Changes that may help relieve migraines include:

  • observing optimal sleeping hygiene
  • Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet
  • avoiding foods that have been processed
  • minimizing time spent in front of the screen

If your migraines don’t improve with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter drugs, see your doctor. For migraines, you may require prescription medication as well as a medical examination that includes an MRI.


If your migraine is causing significant headache pain or if you are experiencing other symptoms, such as:

pain that worsens over time pain that does not improve after a few hours weakness on one side of the face or body pain that occurs abruptly and severely

An urgent scan may be required to determine what is causing severe or atypical occurrences of migraine or headache discomfort.

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Migraine is a prevalent source of headache discomfort that manifests itself in a variety of ways. Experts are unsure why some people suffer from migraines or what triggers these attacks.

While an imaging scan isn’t required for migraine diagnosis, it can be helpful in some circumstances. Researchers may use these brain scans to learn more about migraine and how it affects the brain. Hopefully, this will pave the door for innovative migraine treatments and prevention in the future.

Check Out More At @usahealthline

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