Do those with migraine have heightened senses only during migraine attacks or do hypersensitivities exist between attacks, as well?


Although the level of sensitivity is heightened during a migraine attack, those with migraine are likely to experience such hypersensitivities both during and between migraine attacks.


“Most of what we're talking about today are folks who have fairly frequent attacks. You know, there's likely to be a small population of folks with migraine who have, let's just say, a few attacks per year, that maybe really don't have as much in the way of between attack symptoms, but for those of us who have more frequent migraines, it is a fact that even between full-blown episodes, that they have a different ability to sense pain, and in fact, it's that they're more sensitive.

What you see is kind of this fluctuating pattern in both hypersensitivity, as well as brain activation, and that ... you know, the time that the brain is most overactive is during the migraine attack itself. However, it takes a while after the attack to get closer to its baseline, and then as you near the next migraine attack, you're going to become, encroach upon that hyperactivity again, so you're going to be, you know, moving up on the hyperactivity scale as you get closer to your next migraine, hit the peak during the migraine, and then slowly return back to the baseline. Now of course, that baseline though, may not be equal to what someone would have if they didn't have migraine. It still is going to be likely that it will be higher, or more hyperactive.”

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Todd Schwedt, MD

Professor of Neurology
Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Arizona

As a Professor of Neurology the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Arizona, Dr. Todd Schwedt has seen thousands of migraine patients and evaluated a large number of scans of our hypersensitive brains. His research using advanced MRI techniques has been widely published. He serves on the Board of Directors of the American Headache Society, is the Vice Chairman of the Headache and Facial Pain section of the American Academy of Neurology, is a member of the International Headache Society Classification Committee, and is an Associate editor of Headache, Cephalalgia and Pain Medicine journals.