Migraine Headaches

Norton Children’s Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital for the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Our physicians have expertise in their fields and are training the next generation of pediatric specialists.

We’ll determine the cause of your child’s migraine headaches and create a treatment plan that minimizes risk, so your child can get back to being a kid again.

Migraine Symptoms

Migraine headaches can affect children of all ages and each child differently. They can have a significant impact on quality of life.

Typically, migraines are throbbing or pounding headaches and may be associated with nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and sound sensitivity. The pain can be located in one part of the head or involve the whole head.

Sometimes migraines cause visual distrubances, called auras. These may be described as seeing waves of light, blurred vision or flashes of light. Migraines also may be accompanied by dizziness or numbness and tingling.

Migraines rarely are associated with a serious or life-threatening disease, such as infection or stroke. Reasons to seek immediate evaluation by a doctor or emergency room include:

  • Thunderclap headache – A headache that is severe within a few minutes of its onset
  • Positional headache – A headache that changes significantly depending on whether the child is lying down or standing up
  • Headache that starts after a trauma or whiplash (sometimes as minor as a sneeze or cough)
  • Headache that wakes the child from sleep at night
  • Headache associated with other symptoms, such as weight loss, fever or rash
  • Headache with neurological symptoms that affect a part of the body, such as weakness or paralysis
  • Changes in thinking or speech during a headache

Migraine Diagnosis

The diagnosis of a migraine headache is based on the your child’s symptoms and health history. Blood tests and brain scans do not help to diagnose a migraine.

Team members may order additional tests for your child if there are features of the headache that raise concerns for a different type of headache.

A brain MRI or a lumbar puncture can evaluate fluid pressure within the head and evaluate for blood or infection within the spinal fluid. Your doctor may request an ophthalmologic examination to take a closer look at your child’s eyes.

Migraine Treatment

Our team can recommend many options to help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Recommended efforts include getting plenty of regular sleep, eating meals at regular times without skipping meals, exercising or participating in active playing for at least 30 minutes each day, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding triggers such as caffeine.

A helpful practice is for you and your child to keep a migraine diary that can assist in identifying other possible triggers or patterns to the headaches. Learning how to manage stress through techniques such as biofeedback and controlled breathing can be helpful as well.

Our physicians may discuss different medication strategies with you, including ways to prevent migraines and ways to treat a migraine when it is occurring, called acute therapies.

Acute therapies typically include NSAID medications (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) or triptan medications. It is important that these are not taken too often, as it could result in worsening of headaches. If indicated, preventive medications, or medications that are taken daily in order to reduce the severity and frequency of headaches, may be prescribed.

Our team also performs acupuncture to treat headaches.

Rarely, if a migraine does not stop on its own, the child may require more aggressive treatments in the hospital.

Ongoing Care

Our multidisciplinary team, including neurologists and psychologists, will evaluate your child at regular visits to monitor his or her migraines and quality of life.

Why Norton Children’s Neurosciences?

  • The Norton Children’s Hospital Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is a Level 4 epilepsy center, the highest rating available from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. Norton Children’s Hospital has held this designation since 2013.
  • We are the first in Kentucky and among first in the nation to use neurostimulation in a pediatric patient.
  • Regional neurology care is available for children across Kentucky and Southern Indiana. We travel to clinics in Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Corbin, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Owensboro and Paducah, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana. We also perform a number of telemedicine visits each week.
  • The specialists with Norton Children’s Neurosciences use state-of-the-art technology to treat epilepsy, uncontrollable seizures and deep brain tumors in children who in the past would not be candidates for surgery, including:
    • Visualase: Technology that allows neurosurgeons to perform MRI-guided laser ablation surgery. Fewer than two dozen pediatric hospitals in the U.S. offer this technology.
    • Surgical Theater: Virtual reality (VR) technology that creates an immersive 3D view of a patient’s brain, allowing neurosurgeons, the patient and family to see inside the skull and brain to get a greater understanding of the condition and impact of potential procedures. Norton Children’s Hospital is the first hospital in the region to use this technology.
  • Dedicated multidisciplinary clinics for brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, craniofacial injuries and disorders, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, spasticity, headache/migraine, autism and neurocutaneous disorders.
  • Our multidisciplinary craniofacial program was the first established in the Midwest.
  • We offer a neurogenetics clinic to evaluate and treat children with neurogenetic syndromes.
  • We have a neuropsychology program that specializes in the evaluation of children and teens with a variety of neurological, neurodevelopmental and medical conditions, including brain tumors and epilepsy.
  • Outpatient neurology facilities in downtown Louisville are equipped with in-office electroencephalography (EEG) capabilities and laboratory services in the same building, creating a streamlined, family-centered environment.
  • We offer the region’s first clinic to treat children with immune-mediated neurologic disorders.
Neuroscience

Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute

Connect with the Norton Children’s neurology team
(502) 588-3650

Connect with the Norton Children’s neurosurgery team
(502) 583-1697

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