Migraine. The word itself can bring anguished looks and words from a migraineur. Most migraines involve severe, sometimes debilitating headache. Most involve various aura manifestations. Yet of all the migraines, hemiplegic migraine is among the most serious.
Define Hemiplegic Migraine
The hemiplegic migraine is a very rare form of migraine. The word “hemiplegic” comes from two Greek words: hemi + plegia. “Hemi” is the same word we find in “hemisphere,” and means “half.” “Plegia” refers to a stroke or paralysis. A hemiplegic migraine causes half of the body to suffer stroke-like paralysis.
A hemiplegic migraine can cause paralysis to one arm or leg on one side of the body. It might cause paralysis before the headache begins, during, or after its beginning. Hemiplegic migraine paralysis is usually temporary, but some permanent paralysis can occur. Family history will often show other individuals suffering hemiplegic migraines.
Two Kinds of Hemiplegic Migraine
There are two variations of hemiplegic migraine:
Familial Hemiplegic Migraine (FHM) and Sporadic Hemiplegic Migraine (SHM). Familial Hemiplegic Migraine and Sporadic Hemiplegic Migraine share the same symptoms. The difference between the two is that Familial Hemiplegic Migraine can be traced in family history, linking it to mutations of specific genes on chromosomes 1 and 19. Sporadic Hemiplegic Migraine is Familial Hemiplegic Migraine without the family history. It does not show that specific genetic mutation.
Symptoms of Hemiplegic Migraine
Symptoms of a hemiplegic migraine vary from one migraineur to the next. In addition, a diagnosis of hemiplegic migraine is made difficult by the fact that its symptoms are similar to several vascular diseases. They could indicate stroke, epilepsy, or other concerns. Your physician will need to do a full neurological examination, and carefully review your medical history to rule out other underlying causes. Your family history will be helpful.
Symptoms that will alert your physician to a possible hemiplegic migraine may include any of the following. This list is not meant to be exhaustive.
- aura episodes that last for several days or weeks
- consciousness being impaired, from simple confusion to deep coma
- headache that may or may not begin before the paralysis
- hemiplegia – paralysis on only one side of the body
- inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements
- Meningismus – showing symptoms of meningitis, but not having the disease itself
- nausea and / or vomiting
The paralysis may happen suddenly, and seem to be a stroke. If you have any of the above symptoms, you should get to a physician immediately. Although many doctors have never treated a case of hemiplegic migraine owing to its rarity, yours should be able to refer you to an excellent migraine specialist who can give you proper treatment.