Part 2 of a 3-part series on migraines was published today and if you really want to understand migraines, I recommend you read part 1 first and then read part 2, which is a bit more comprehensive and scientific.
I copy paste here the beginning to capture your interest but please read the rest on the page where it is posted:
What is the anatomy of a migraine? Do migraines have an anatomy, a location map, in the same way heart disease does? Sure, migraine happens in the brain and we feel the pain in our head if there is pain – not all migraines come with pain, but does the pain guide us to a causative anatomy of the migraine the same way a heart attack does to the heart? No, it does not; at least not in the same way a blocked artery points to the cause of heart attack. The symptoms of migraines correspond to no specific regions of the brain, except in the case of the aura migraine, which points at the visual cortex. Only about 15% of those with migraines have auras. For 85% of the cases, we do not have the anatomical location of the migraine understood. Most science seems to consider aura and non-aura migraine different in nature and cause. Are they? Maybe not.
Most migraines are not connected to the symptoms we feel (nausea, dizziness, IBS, RLS, anxiety, nausea, vomit, etc.) and because of the variety of symptoms, there is nothing to guide us, such as a scan of the arteries for heart or a stroke. Another contributing factor is that there are no pain sensing nerves in the brain. All pain is felt by the trigeminal neuron receptors that are located on the meninges of the brain. That is, the pain we feel as migraineurs is disconnected from the actual location that causes migraines. To find the anatomy of a migraine, we need to go beyond the symptoms and the pain of the disease, beyond the visible disturbance of the eye in the aura, to the underlying cause for these symptoms.
For much of recent history, migraine research has revolved around two discrete theories of migraines: vascular and non-vascular mental illness. The two schools of thought were merged into what is now called neurovascular disease. But the latest findings suggest that there is more to migraines than neurovascular disease.
Migraine as Vascular Disease
For much of the 20th century, migraine was considered to be a vascular disease. This meant that migraine pain was caused by cranial blood vessel dilation or constriction. Still today we can see many over-the-counter migraine drugs that constrict blood vessels with caffeine in order to constrict the vascular structure of the brain (and the heart and the rest of our body). Alternatively, many doctors still prescribe beta blockers that reduce blood pressure and loosen arteries for easier blood flow and reduced constriction. If migraine is a disease of vascular nature, what causes the cranial vasodilation changes, particularly if these changes do not affect the heart or other parts of the body? This is the first clue that migraines are something more than just vascular in nature.
Migraine as Non-Vascular Mental Illness
The second prominent theory in migraine research attributes migraine pain to alterations… more
Questions and comments are welcome! This article contains lots of scientific evidence and is written on a bit more scientific language. Please feel free to ask if something confuses you!