Your QuestionI experienced a headache followed by left sided numbness. I believe my doctor said I had hemiplegic migraine. During these episodes the left side of my body will feel like tiny pinpricks and go completely numb. When it gets really bad it spreads over to my right side and i cannot operate my car. When this happens I do not always get headaches. Is there any information you can give me?
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Signs and symptoms associated with aura:
- Visual disturbance (e.g., blind spots, flashing lights, zigzag pattern, and double vision)
- Sensory loss (e.g., numbness or paresthesias of the face or an extremity)
- Difficulty with speech (which usually occur along with right-sided weakness)
- Hemiparesis (weakness of one limb or one side of the body)
- Impaired consciousness
- Memory loss
Motor weakness is always associated with at least another aura symptom. People with hemiplegic migraine often describe a typical sensory aura that starts as tingling in one of the fingers and gradually progresses to the other fingers, up to the arm, and then affects the face, tongue, and later the body and leg. In some patients, paresthesias (e.g., tingling) is followed by numbness. For other people sensory loss (e.g., numbness) is always predominant.
Motor weakness involves areas affected by sensory symptoms and varies from mild clumsiness to complete deficit. Sensory-motor symptoms usually start in one hand and gradually spread up to the arm and the face. These symptoms can be restricted to one limb or can spread all over one side of the body. They can affect both sides of the body, occurring simultaneously or in succession, or remain unilateral, switching side from attack to attack, or always involving the same side. Speech disturbances mostly affect expression, with rare comprehension impairment.
Neurologic signs and symptoms can last for hours to days. These symptoms can outlast headache. Attention and memory loss can last weeks to months. Permanent motor, sensory, language, or visual symptoms are extremely rare. Some people with the familial form of hemiplegic migraine develop mild ataxia, usually in adulthood.
A mutation in the gene CACNA1A, ATP1A2, or SCN1A can cause familial hemiplegic migraine (types FHM1, FHM2, and FHM3 respectively). Familial hemiplegic migraine is passed through families in an autosomal dominant fashion.
De novo mutations in the ATP1A2 and CACNA1A have been discovered in a few cases of sporadic hemiplegic migraine. In general, mutations in CACNA1A, ATP1A2, or SCN1A seem to be more common in families with multiple affected members (large families), and in familial or sporadic cases with early onset disease.
The underlying cause in some families with familial hemiplegic migraine and in most cases of sporadic disease has yet to be identified.
There are a few articles describing the use of nasal administration of ketamine, intravenous verapamil, and triptans for treatment of aura in people with hemiplegic migraine. Use of triptans in hemiplegic migraine is controversial and may be contraindicated in people with severe attacks.
For further information on these and other treatments, we recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider.
- Russell MB, Ducros A. Sporadic and familial hemiplegic migraine: pathophysiological mechanisms, clinical characteristics, diagnosis, and management. Lancet Neurol. May, 2011; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21458376. Accessed 8/26/2013.
- Jen JC. Familial Hemiplegic Migraine. GeneReviews. September 2009; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1388/#fhm.Clinical_Description. Accessed 8/26/2013.
- Migraine with aura. MayoClinic. June 2013; http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/migraine-with-aura/DS00908/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print. Accessed 8/26/2013.