If you have ever experienced a migraine, you know it can be truly debilitating. However, it could be much more severe; it could be an aneurysm. When considering if your pain is a migraine or something worse, there are some key things to consider.
First, it’s essential to understand what an aneurysm is. An aneurysm occurs when blood vessels that supply blood to the brain balloon. They grow over time and usually go undetected until a rupture. While it’s common for those that suffer a ruptured aneurysm to be migraine sufferers, often there is no prior history of neurological problems. Thus, there are very few symptoms that coincide with a growing aneurysm until the rupture. If the aneurysm is big enough, a person may suffer headaches, vision problems, or weakness.
Only about 30,000 people in the U.S. suffer from a brain aneurysm rupture each year, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. While rare, anyone has the potential to have one. Those who have high blood pressure or diabetes, or who overuse alcohol, smoke, or are obese have a higher risk of having one.
It’s often easy to dismiss the pain you are feeling as a migraine, especially if you regularly get them. The symptoms are similar—pain in the head area, blurred vision, and feeling off balance. Aneurysms do have some key differences—ones you will want to pay attention to.
What makes an aneurysm different is the level of pain—many would classify it as the worst headache of their lives. The pain can also be described as very sudden, pounding, and feeling it all over the head. That’s different from a classic migraine that typically only affects one side of the head. It also doesn’t go away when the patient takes migraine medication.
When your symptoms don’t abate and your pain level increases, then it’s time to consult with a board-certified neurologist to ensure you get immediate care.
When to Consult a Board-Certified Neurologist at IGEA
While there are often few symptoms leading up to a rupture, there are certain events that signal it is time to consult with an NJ neurosurgeon and get help. In determining if it’s a migraine or something worse, you should seek medical help if the pain persists and is unlike previous migraine episodes. The first step is to get a clear diagnosis. Neurosurgeons have several ways to find the cause of the pain.
Diagnosing an aneurysm consists of:
- Reviewing previous medical history and determining any risk factors for aneurysms
- Physical examinations to check all your vitals and the areas of pain
- Diagnostic tests like CAT scans and MRIs—with these results, your neurosurgeon will be able to clearly see if there are any aneurysms in your brain and if they have ruptured
After the tests and exams, your doctor will have a clear idea of what is causing your pain and can work with you to develop a treatment plan, which may include the need for surgery.
If you are diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, there are ways to treat it. In treating it, you’ll most likely have to have an aneurysm surgery. The sooner it’s detected, the better for your future health. The best ways to treat an aneurysm include:
- Microsurgical Clipping: this procedure includes removing a small part of the skull for access to the area then placing a titanium clip directly on the aneurysm to prevent bleeding and redirect blood flow away from it
- Endovascular Coiling: this procedure is less invasive as it doesn’t require an incision into the skull; instead a coil is placed in the aneurysm to seal and clot it
- Pipeline® Embolization: this is the newest way to treat brain aneurysms, wherein the Pipeline® Embolization device is placed inside the artery to seal it, leaving minimal scarring and reducing pain
Because of these advanced ways to treat aneurysms, you may find that you won’t need a lengthy stay in the hospital. In fact, you could be up and back home within a few days.
IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics Encourages Early Detection for Aneurysms
A vital part of surviving a brain aneurysm is early detection. You should listen to your body and not take any noticed symptoms lightly. Even if you have a history of migraines, this headache will be much different, possibly impacting your vision and speech. If you have persistent pain all over the head, you should make an appointment with a board-certified neurosurgeon at IGEA. We know the best ways to treat aneurysms and have the expertise needed to ensure that the diagnosis is quick and treatment swift. Contact one of our offices today to schedule your appointment.
The physicians at IGEA serve patients with neurological ailments all across New Jersey and New York. Request an appointment today and count on our neurosurgeons to practice great care in diagnosing and treating you.