The throbbing pain in your head and the resulting discomfort can inevitably take a toll on your ability to keep up with everyday tasks. While people tend to use the terms headache and migraine interchangeably, there’s a considerable difference between the two.
The latter consists of much more than just a headache. In any case, when the pain is excruciating, you may want to go to any lengths to get rid of it. Sometimes you may also be referred for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), but is it necessary? Or does it help with a diagnosis in any way? Or are you concerned that your headaches or migraines may be pointing towards something serious?
Here’s what you should know about headaches, migraines, and the need for an MRI before you head to the Mermaid Beach radiology clinic on the Gold Coast,
Under What Circumstances Do You Need an MRI?
A professional may ask you to undergo an MRI for several reasons such as:
Ø If you have frequent headaches (on an almost daily basis)
Ø If you previously had any inconclusive CT scans
Ø If your headache pattern has changed in any way or if there’s something unusual about them, especially if you’re 50 or older
Ø If you’ve noticed any additional symptoms along with your headaches
Ø If there are serious symptoms such as seizures, loss of control, or speech changes with the headache
Ø If the headaches are a result of a physical activity
Ø If you experience severe headaches, similar to the feeling of something bursting in your head randomly
Ø If your professional feels that there may be a structural problem behind your headaches
What Does an MRI Detect?
Sometimes, a CT scan isn’t enough to examine different brain parts, and an MRI becomes necessary. For instance, it can be useful to look at the backside of the brain, an area hard to focus on with a CT scan alone.
While an MRI scan does not diagnose any types of headaches or migraines, it does help your doctor determine whether you have any other serious medical conditions such as:
Ø A brain tumor
Ø An infection
Ø Issues with the spinal cord such as herniated discs
Is an MRI Necessary?
Again, an MRI is not a necessary measure to take if you suffer from headaches or migraines. However, it can help your doctor take a detailed look at the structure of the brain.
This is not to say that an MRI is not important because headaches or migraines can point towards something serious. However, before we get into it, here are the two categories that headaches generally fall under:
Primary: Primary headaches can include migraines but don’t have a structural cause
Secondary: These types of headaches are a result of a disease
What Other Abnormalities Require an MRI?
There could be circumstances where a professional may initially recommend a physical exam but later resort to an MRI. This could be due to an abnormality they may have found but may not have confirmed due to a lack of a clear picture. Some of these abnormalities may include:
Ø loss of vision
Ø double vision
Ø optic nerve swelling
Ø abnormal pupil reflex or other reflexes in general
Ø feeling weak on one side of the body
Does an MRI Treat Your Headache?
Imaging tests are not meant to relieve pain in any way. They are only meant to determine if your headaches are a sign of a serious problem. However, there are several ways to treat a headache, as discussed in the next section.
How to Deal With or Avoid Headaches
Find Out Your Triggers
What’s causing your migraines? Is it bright lights, dehydration, or skipping meals? While there are many other symptoms of migraines, these happen to be the most common ones and can be resolved if we figure out the underlying causes.
What’s causing your headaches? Is it stress, posture, or dietary factors? Again, headaches are accompanied by other symptoms, but once we determine the underlying cause, it’s easy to keep them under control or avoid them entirely.
Sleep Well and Exercise
The goal must be to sleep for a good six to eight hours every night to avoid tiredness, lethargy, or headaches due to a lack of rest. Too much or lack of physical activity can be equally harmful. Refer to a professional to figure out the right amount of exercise you need to maintain a healthy balance.
The Bottom Line
In the end, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to headaches and migraines, and thankfully, there is enough medication available to deal with them. However, if they have become severe and frequent, you may want to visit a doctor to see if you should undergo an MRI.