Vestibular Migraine or Migraine Association Vertigo (MAV) is a disorder which involves a problem with the coordination of the sensory information sent to your brain from the eyes, muscles & bones, and the vestibular organs inside the ears. Nearly 40% of all migraine sufferers experience some vestibular symptoms during their lifetime, such as dizziness, sensitivity to light/sound and stiffness of the neck, however, people who suffer from vestibular migraine specifically, experience a whole gamut of other symptoms, including, but not limited to;
- Severe dizziness
- Other motion problems in the head, eyes or body,
- Diminished eye focus
- Photo-sensitivity (light)
- Phono-sensitivity (sound)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ataxia (loss of control over bodily movement)
- Neck pain
- Muscle spasms in the upper spine area
How do you treat Vestibular Migraine?
Experts believe that the most effective way of treating someone with Vestibular Migraine is with a combination of medication, vestibular rehabilitation and lifestyle modifications.
At the moment, the medication used for treating Vestibular Migraine is the same as that used for other migraine disorders; beta blockers, e.g. Propranolol, tricyclic anti-depressants, e.g. Amitriptyline, calcium channel blockers, e.g. Flunarizine, anti-convulsants e.g. Topiramate, and anti-emetics e.g. Domperidone. Some medications may have a bonus effect on the vestibular symptoms as well as the migraine, however, you may need something a little more specific to target that end of things. Like all medication some work better for some people than for others so it’s very important to get the right medication for you. Over the counter analgesics and anti-inflammatories are thought to have little effect on vestibular symptoms, but can help with pain. It is important to speak to your GP or Specialist about ANY medication you intend to try to make sure it does not interact badly with other medication you may be on, or other conditions you may suffer from.
Vestibular Rehabilitation is a specific form of physiotherapy that involves exercise and movement to reduce the symptoms associated with a vestibular disorder. The idea of the therapy is to retrain your brain and your vestibular system to recognise and process the signals coming from your eyes, body and the vestibular organs, then to increase coordination and return balance. It is important to see a specially trained physiotherapist for this therapy.
It’s a daunting concept sometimes having to change your lifestyle to accommodate an illness, but it can be done, and for the greater good. Sometimes it means changing small things, like sticking to a routine of bed and food at the same time everyday, other times it can be a big change, like giving up something you enjoy doing so as to avoid your migraine. By making the few small changes you may avoid not only the migraine, but having to make those big changes after all.
Using a migraine diary can help you find out exactly what triggers your migraine. It can also show you a pattern so you can pinpoint times when you may be in danger of an attack.