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Marshall James Nev, PLC | What is a Migraine? in Richmond

Lexington-Richmond Headache Clinic
Marshall James Ney, DMD, FAAOP
Fellow American Academy of Oral Facial Pain

527 W. Main St.
Richmond, 40475
(859) 623-3761

What is a Migraine?


Back in the 1960’s, if you wanted to get a paper copied you would not say “please get me a copy of this.” Rather, you would say “please get me a Xerox of this. Unfortunately, the same kind of label has been placed on migraine. Today, any bad headache is called a migraine, when in fact, it could be a muscle tension headache.

In general, the migraine pain is felt as a fast throbbing headache, which is made worse by jarring one’s body as in walking or moving fast. It is commonly characterized by pain on one side of the head coupled with visual auras and flashing lights. But the most important characteristic is the fast throbbing pain which is vascular (blood vessel) in contrast to constant, steady or slowly throbbing pain which would indicate muscle pain.


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Pain in migraine and muscle headaches is transmitted by the same cranial nerve (trigeminal or cranial nerve #5). However, the headaches are different.

Muscles of the face and neck are involved in muscle tension headache.

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Muscle pain is described as constant, steady or slowly throbbing pain, while the vascular pain of a migraine is fast throbbing and can be made worse by movement such as walking or turning your head quickly.

A significant number of headaches are what we call “mixed” meaning that they have both a muscle and vascular point of origin. Usually this type of headache begins as a muscle tension type headache (steady or slowly throbbing) and then ends up with vascular symptoms that are fast throbbing.

Being related like this is an opportunity to treat migraine by intervening and treating the muscle first so that the migraine never comes on. Even better then waiting to treat the muscle tension type headache is to not ever let it get started. The advantage of preventing the muscle pain versus preventing the migraine pain is that muscle pain can be managed with orthopedic methods and a few non addicting and inexpensive medications. Preventing migraine involves expensive abortive (meaning get rid of the pain after the pain has begun) or expensive preventive medications like Topamax, and Neurontin that “play with your mind”.

—Dr. Ney

Richmond Dentist | What is a Migraine?. Marshall James Ney is a Richmond Dentist.