There’s nothing in the world that some migraine sufferers would want more than an acephalgic migraine.
But for acephalgic sufferers, pain is the least of their worries.
Acephalgic migraines are the same as regular migraines, except without the pain.
This means treatment is fairly similar except we aren’t as focused on pain reduction.
In this article we are going to talk about 3 powerful steps for acephalgic migraines and what they are.
Let’s start at the beginning.
What is an acephalgic migraine?
According to Dr Traci Purath, “acephalgic migraines are not a type of migraine yet the actual phase of which a migraine attack is in. There are 3 phases of a common migraine in which an acephalgic migraine involves phase one and two only. Phase 3 of a common migraine is the actual headache itself. The typical symptoms involved in an acephalgic migraine are speech disturbance, migraine with aura, loss of vision, vertigo and many more.”
Prodrome => Aura => Attack => Postdrome
Acephalgic migraines are one of the most highly misdiagnosed migraines because of the vast differences in symptoms and a lack of head pain.
Some types of migraine separate from acephalgic migraine include:
– Migraine with typical aura
– Migraine with brainstem aura
– Hemiplegic migraine
– Retinal migraine
Some other names for acephalgic migraines include:
– Silent migraine
– Amigrainous migraine
– Migraine aura without headache
– Migraine equivalent
– Isolated visual migraine
– Optical migraine
Common symptoms that can come with acephalgic migraines include:
Sensitivity to light
Seeing zigzags or squiggly lines
Bilateral central scotomata
Classic amaurosis fugax
Altitudinal field loss
Temporal crescent involvement
Transient central scotoma
The most common symptom of acephalgic migraine found in one study was the classic half moon visual disturbance.(Link)
Here is an awesome video which talks about the confusion about acephalgic or silent migraines.
Some of the most common triggers for acephalgic migraines reported through healthline are:
Chemical preservatives, colorings, and flavorings
Too much sleep
Too little sleep
Menstruation and other hormonal changes
For a better list of triggers see our article on the most common triggers for migraine by clicking here.
What causes acephalgic migraines?
Most often, the cause of acephalgic migraine is reported to be unknown, the same with most types of migraines.
This is to be expected with only the equivalent of $0.50 per migraine sufferer going to migraine research.
It’s important to remember that migraine is but a mechanism.
It’s frequently connected to cortical spreading depression and even more so in cases with aura.
This cortical spreading depression(CSD) is a cascade reaction that happens when the brain goes through a process of getting ‘choked up.’
See the common connection behind all migraines here.
Just like a hose that hasn’t had water run through it and sputters for the first few seconds, a migraine is a choking up that starts in the brainstem and hypothalamus.
When the brain has gotten sufficiently taxed and the energy generating reserves of our neurons are depleted enough…
The brain stem goes through a ‘spurt’ or a ‘rev’ and this can cause a choke up which will radiate through the brain.
During a regular migraine, this will radiate into pain sensing nerves and cause the protective pain reflex normal to our body.
This protective pain reflex is there to make us stop doing what we are doing that may be causing the pain.
During migraines with aura this will radiate into different areas of the brain creating different aural symptoms.
For example, the visual processing area of the brain is in the back, the occiput, so if this area gets the cascading effect we can experience visual auras like zig zags, blurring etc.
The causes of this lack of energy, spurt or rev in the brain can come from many different areas and for many different reasons.
Migraine doesn’t have one cause but many because migraine is just a mechanism that gets triggered by weakness in the brain.
This weakness can come from anywhere in the body, not necessarily the brain.
A strain on any system of the body can spill over into the others.
This is why hormone imbalance, gut dysfunction, musculoskeletal imbalances and allergies are such common causes and triggers of migraine.
What are some common treatments used for acephalgic migraines?
The first 8 are more recommended than the simple quick fix medications that can compromise organs like the liver and lead to rebound headaches.
See our article on the top 10 natural remedies for migraines here.
Who is most likely to experience them?
If you experience some type of migraine then it’s far more likely you will have an acephalgic episode at some point in your life.
It is estimated that 20% of migraineurs have experienced a silent migraine.
People over the age of 50 are more likely to experience this “silent” type of migraine.
There are also many people who have no history of headaches that may be getting strange symptoms which are actually acephalgic migraines.
This type of migraine also more commonly increases during perimenopause.(Link)
Now let’s talk about what we can do.
3 Powerful steps for acephalgic migraines
1. Find out what it is first
Always make sure that if you’ve never experienced these symptoms before or have never been assessed and diagnosed by a doctor, that you go to one immediately as it could be a sign of something more serious like a stroke.
2. Assess the cause
Most often, the trigger was something that we did or continue to do in the last 24-72 hours that has caused our body to rebel and our trigger level to cross threshold.
Ask yourself these questions to identify where it’s coming from.
Where are we in our cycle?
What foods have we eaten in the past day or two?
What’s the weather report?
How high is my stress level 1-100?
How much quality water have I drank in the past 3 days?
How much restful sleep have I accumulated in the last week?
Is my breathing shallow or deep?
Is my tongue changing its appearance?
Have I moved my body enough to clean out the gunk the last 2-3 days?
What are my bowel movements like?
What color is my urine?
How do my eyes look?
What is my pattern and have I ran it right into trigger?
To find out more about how your body is telling you exactly what is going on see our 10 steps program.
3. Deal with the cause first, when your foundations are solid, supplement.
When the brain is going through this lack of a steady stream of energy we need to help the process that our cells go through to generate energy molecules called ATP.
There are some amazing supplements and techniques you can try today.
CoQ10 at 150mg per day (Study)
This study found mean reduction in migraine frequency after 3 months of treatment was 55.3%.
Detox heavy metals and get enough zinc and magnesium (Study)
This study found that migraine sufferers had high levels of metals harmful to the brain and low levels of those that supported brain metabolism
Use ketones, lower carbohydrates in your diet and fasting to make the body release butyrate (Study)
This may be because of its effect on neural inflammation, cortical spreading depression, and enhancing brain mitochondrial metabolism
Fix posture to allow your brain to get nutrients going through your spinal vertebrae (Study)
Try techniques like supporting better ergonomics, eldoa and other fascial stretches as well as organ assessment to look at the deeper causes of postural imbalance
Take a methylated b complex (Study)
In this study, b vitamins reduced migraine disability in half.
Above all, reduce the stress on the body and brain.
Find a way to drop your stress hormones any time the tension starts to build in your body and use a reliable technique to drop it.
Studies show that within 2-3 minutes of using a stress reduction technique, cortisol(the stress hormone) drops in half.
To learn all there is to know around migraines that your doctor doesn’t have the time to discuss with you, start the 10 steps program today by clicking here.
Share this post for others who may have mystery symptoms or experience migraine and may actually be having a silent attack.
Comment below and let me know:
Have you ever had a silent migraine?
Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.