Complex Migraine


COMPLEX MIGRAINE is a neurological condition that causes intense headache that generates a pulsating feeling in some areas of the head[1]. When a typical migraine is followed by an Aura (a stroke-like condition) the simple migraine becomes complex migraine. Disturbed sleeping patterns, exposure to bright light for a certain period, stress, certain physical postures, eating specific types of food, or certain genetic factors could cause the onset of headaches in complex migraine. However, the exact reason behind complex migraine is yet to be determined. Complicated migraine could occur periodically, e.g., weekly or on certain occasions[2]. The following are the symptoms of complex migraine:

This article has been medically reviewed by Anny Palencia, MD — 2022-10-17


The following are the symptoms of complex migraine:

Location Types of Headaches

The location of a headache could help to find underlying conditions like stress, post-traumatic, brain infection, or brain tumor. However, one of the most common causes of headaches is migraine. If a headache is present in the entire portion of the head, then it is considered a generalized headache as it does not have specific areas of pain within the head region. A single-sided headache type of head pain is the main characteristic of migraine and is present on only one side of the head. A kind of headache that affects the frontal area of the head is known as a front headache, whereas if it affects the posterior or back region of the head, it is known as a back headache. An individual suffering from migraine might experience pain at all locations types of headaches as the pain switches its place, affecting the entire head.

Throbbing Pain

A pain sensation that comes and goes quickly is known as throbbing pain. It mimics a vibration that makes the pain throb like a heartbeat and is rooted in the increased blood flow caused by the body in retaliation to pain. It is common in the head, teeth, legs, and arms. However, in complex migraine, throbbing pain is mainly experienced only in the head region. The front, back, or sides of the head mostly experience a throbbing pain during complicated migraine [3].

Migraine Location

Generally, one side or both sides of the head experiences migraine. Also, the front head or the forehead region of the head experiences most migraines, whereas migraine in the back area is not quite ordinary. At times, migraine headaches might impact the entire head as it has rotating pain in the head onto other regions or sides. In simple or complex migraines, the pain could move from one area, e.g., right side, to the other area of the head, e.g., left side, thereby affecting the general head area.


A prodrome is an early sign or symptom suggesting the onset of a disorder. One of the significant differences between a simple migraine and a complex migraine is the presence of a prodrome known as aura. An aura indicates the onset of a migraine and mostly lasts even after the offset of the migraine, thereby developing migraine symptoms that last longer than simple migraine. Since the aura allows the detection of oncoming migraine attacks, medications or treatments during this phase could help manage pain or symptoms caused by the onset of migraine attacks.

Pulsating Headache

Affected individuals suffer sharp pain in some areas of the head. A headache causes the dilation of the blood vessels, which allows blood to flow more freely, resulting in increased blood flow toward the affected region of the head to treat the problem of head pain. Increased blood flow causes the blood to move quickly through the head, creating a pulsating sensation in pain. A pulsating headache is one of the most common symptoms of migraine.

Complicated Migraine

Migraines typically result from brain anomalies affecting the functioning of grey matter. Unexplained neurological symptoms in migraines are often called complicated migraines [2]. Migraines present an unexplained aura that lasts longer than simple migraine symptoms. The aura remains prior to and posts to each migraine attack. Before a complex migraine attack, an individual might experience frequent urination, stiffness in the neck, constipation, food craving, depression, and, at times, euphoria. However, post a complex migraine attack, an individual might experience confusion, exhaustion, and weakness. Individuals suffering from migraine might experience sensitivity toward light and sound. It is not a general headache as it affects the sensory ability of hearing and vision and affects the body's overall blood flow.

Complicated migraine diagnosis

Diagnosis of complicated migraine requires using imaging techniques like MRI. However, its diagnostics are complex as compared to simple migraine. Medical examination of the symptoms by healthcare experts requires more rigorous analysis to understand and differentiate complicated migraine. Currently, no treatment methodologies would completely eradicate even a simple migraine. Therefore, properly managing its symptoms is the only viable way to decrease the discomfort and pain caused by migraine. Symptoms of complex migraine in affected individuals could be controlled using pain-relieving medications like steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs. Beta-blockers, anti-seizure drugs, and calcium channel blockers could help manage neurological functions that could prevent the onset of complicated migraine. Lifestyle changes like proper nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques, and hydration could also help manage symptoms of complex migraine.


  1. ^ John G Edmeads (2022). Complicated Migraine and Headache on Cerebrovascular Disease: Influence Statistics. Retrieved 17 Nov 2022.
  2. ^ Stovner L. et. al. (2022). The global prevalence of headache: an update, with analysis of the influences of methodological factors on prevalence estimates. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 23, 34. . Retrieved 17 Nov 2022.
  3. ^ Green M. and Colman R. (2015). Chapter 6 - Complicated Migraine. Headache and Migraine Biology and Management, pp. 51-60. Retrieved 17 Nov 2022.
  4. ^ National Headache Foundation (2007). Complicated Migraine. Retrieved from Retrieved 1 Nov 2022.
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This article has been medically reviewed by Anny Palencia, MD — 2022-10-17

Who are the top experts researching treatments for complex migraine?

The top experts researching complex migraine are: Arn M. J. M. Van Den Maagdenberg, Gisela Marie Terwindt and Else A. Tolner.

Complex Migraine

What are the top concepts researched in studies about complex migraine?

The most researched concepts in studies of complex migraine are: Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide, Headache Disorders, Cortical Spreading Depression, Breast Cancer, Ischemic Stroke, Physical Activity, Long Term, Chronic Pain and Evaluate Safety.

What are some of the top places that specialize in complex migraine?

Recommended institutions that specialize in complex migraine:

Barry S. Mann, M.D. 20055 Lake Chabot Rd #250, Castro Valley, CA 94546 Phone: +15108867122

Dr. Ellen Edgar, MD Dr. Ellen Edgar, MD Phone: +18002008196

Mr. Ramesh Nair Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Palace Rd, London W6 8RF, United Kingdom Phone: +447711249691

Tanaka Neurology Clinic 1329-15 Iijimacho, Sakae Ward, Kanagawa 244-0842, Japan Phone: +81458938012

Complex Migraine

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This article has been medically reviewed by Anny Palencia, MD — 2022-10-17
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This article has been medically reviewed by Anny Palencia, MD — 2022-10-17

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