Throbbing, pulsing, aching. No, we’re not talking about the latest steamy novel – we’re actually describing migraine pain.

Here’s where migraine pain can hurt in your head and body. Plus, where you might experience other sensory disturbances due to migraine.

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Migraine is a neurological disorder that usually feels like a pounding headache on the side of the head and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

But, you can also feel migraine pain in the forehead, eye area, and neck. That’s because the type of migraine can determine where you feel pain and what kind of pain.

Migraine attacks usually happen in stages, so the types and intensity of your symptoms can also vary on the stage you’re experiencing.

Unlike your typical headache, however, migraine pain is usually more severe, longer-lasting, and can be accompanied by other symptoms like:

The migraine pain experience can feel different from person to person and migraine to migraine.

Generally, your head will likely feel like it’s under pressure, and different areas of your head, neck, or eyes may feel like they’re throbbing or pulsing. But you can also experience different sensory disturbances and no pain at all.

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Migraine without aura (aka common migraine)

Where you feel it: one side of your head

Intensity: moderate to severe

Migraine without aura is also known as common migraine. It generally lasts between 4 to 72 hours and causes a throbbing, pulsating pressure on one side of your head.

Physical activity usually makes common migraine worse, and you may also feel nauseous or even throw up.

Migraine with aura

Where you feel it: pain behind your eyes — sometimes the forehead or on one side of your head — plus sensory disturbances

Intensity: mild to severe

Migraine with aura pain is often concentrated behind the eyes, but you may also feel it in the forehead or on one side of your head. You’ll also experience extra symptoms, thanks to those agitating auras.

Auras basically supercharge a migraine attack, adding a whole bunch of sensory disturbances on top of searing head pain. This can include:

  • blind spots or vision loss
  • ringing in the ears
  • light or sound sensitivity
  • dizziness
  • tingling or numbness
  • slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • reduced motor skills
  • muscle weakness

According to the American Migraine Foundation, about 25 to 30 percent of folks with migraine will experience migraine with aura. Aura symptoms generally last from 5 minutes to 1 hour, while head pain may persist for up to 3 days.

There are also several subtypes of migraine with aura, like retinal migraine, silent migraine, and hemiplegic migraine.

Chronic migraine

Where you feel it: pain varies from the forehead, one side of the head, or behind the eyes

Intensity: varies

If you’re experiencing 15 or more migraine days per month, you likely have a case of chronic migraine.

Chronic migraine is categorized by attack frequency, rather than where or how you feel pain. Symptoms can change over time, so you may feel pressure on one side of your head during one attack and behind your eyes the next.

To keep you on your toes, the pain intensity can also vary by day and by migraine attack.

Silent migraine

Where you feel it: you don’t feel any pain, but experience aura symptoms

Intensity: varies

Silent migraine is a type of migraine with aura — minus the headache part.

Before you hope you get this type of migraine over others, beware. Even though there’s no head pain, silent migraine still comes with other aura symptoms, including:

  • vision probs
  • numbness or tingling
  • nausea or vomiting
  • speech issues
  • dizziness

Abdominal migraine

Where you feel it: pain in your stomach area

Intensity: moderate to severe

Abdominal migraine causes dull or achy stomach pain near the belly button. You don’t usually get a headache with abdominal migraine. Instead, these bad boys cause tummy pain, nausea, and vomiting.

This type is more common in kids, but adults can get it too.

Ocular migraine (aka retinal migraine)

Where you feel it: visual disturbances behind one eye, with our without a headache

Intensity: moderate to severe

Ocular migraine causes visual disturbances similar to migraine with aura, but it only occurs in one eye. Symptoms can include:

  • blind spots
  • “seeing stars”
  • zig-zag lines
  • temporary vision loss or blindness

Migraine headache pain may or may not occur following an ocular migraine, leaving you with all of the visual non-joys of an aura without the pesky pain.

Menstrual migraine

Where you feel it: pain on one side of your head

Intensity: moderate to severe

Menstrual migraine is technically a common migraine or migraine with aura depending on the symptoms. About 60 percent of women experience menstrual migraine at some point in their life, which is typically felt on one side of the head.

Essentially changing hormone levels during any point of the menstrual cycle can trigger this migraine attack. Certain forms of hormonal birth control might also make the pain worse.

If you’re prone to migraine attacks, talk with your doc or gyno for guidance on what type of birth control is best for you. Folks dealing with migraine with aura should avoid taking birth control that contains estrogen because it can increase the risk of stroke.

Vestibular migraine

Where you feel it: doesn’t always involve head pain, but affects your balance

Intensity: mild to severe

Vestibular migraine can catch you off-balance — literally.

A leading cause of vertigo, vestibular migraine attacks typically occur in your inner ear (an area that affects your sense of balance). You may experience ringing in the ears or feel like you’re falling.

This migraine don’t always come with a headache, but it can cause:

  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • spinning sensation
  • sense of being off-balanced
  • feeling of falling
  • changes in vision or hearing
  • nausea

Migraine with brainstem aura (aka basilar migraine)

Where you feel it: varies

Intensity: mild to severe

Migraine with brainstem aura — aka basilar migraine — is a rare type of migraine with aura that occurs in about 0.04 percent of the population.

A basilar migraine attack typically starts at the back of your neck, around the area of your brainstem (hence the name). The pain creeps along to one side of your head, causing a pounding sensation.

Along with a killer headache, this migraine can also affect your vision, hearing, and speech. You may also feel super tired and drained AF after a basilar migraine attack.

The biggest difference is that migraine is a disorder (that causes various symptoms), while headaches are a symptom of another condition, illness, or issue.

Let’s break down other key differences.


  • chronic condition
  • cause a throbbing, pulsating, intense pressure or pain
  • typically (but not always) felt on one side of the head
  • don’t always cause head pain
  • vary in intensity from mild to debilitating
  • last from several hours to several days
  • can cause other symptoms


  • symptom of other conditions or disorders
  • cause a dull or aching pressure
  • can cause pain in the head, face, or neck
  • vary in intensity
  • are often short-lived
  • don’t cause other symptoms

If migraine pain won’t go away, gets worse, or starts messing with the quality of your day-to-day, it’s time to talk with a pro.

You should also see your doc ASAP if you start experiencing symptoms like:

  • severe or unrelenting symptoms
  • muscle weakness or numbness
  • fever
  • post-migraine vision or speech probs
  • confusion or memory loss
  • bloody stool
  • dehydration
  • vertigo
  • skin rash
  • seizures
  • paralysis

Your doctor can work with you to diagnose the type of migraine you have, identify triggers, and recommend a treatment plan tailored to your needs. This can include medications, lifestyle changes, or a mix of the two.

There isn’t a tried-and-true cure for migraine, but your doctor may suggest a mix of medications and home remedies to help manage attacks.

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) meds that might help ease your migraine pain include:

  • OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen
  • Anti-nausea meds, like Compazine (prochlorperazine) and Reglan (metoclopramide)
  • Nasal triptans (aka nose sprays), such as zolmitriptan (Zomig) and sumatriptan (Imitrex)
  • Oral triptans, like frovatriptan (Frova), rizatriptan (Maxalt), or almotriptan (Axert)

Research suggests that certain supplements may also help treat or reduce the frequency of migraine, including:

Some folks also turn to natural remedies to soothe migraine symptoms like:

Because migraine affects everyone differently, you may need to play around with different treatment options to see what works best for you.

While you can’t always stop migraine attacks, there are ways you can reduce risk and potentially prevent the pain like:

Your doc may also recommend medical prevention, such as prescription medications (like antidepressants, blood pressure meds, or anticonvulsants), anti-calcitonin gene-related peptide (anti-CGRP) treatments, or even Botox injections.

Migraine is a disorder that often causes intense headaches, among other symptoms. Pain is generally felt on one side of the head, but can also occur in the forehead, behind your eyes, or at the back of your neck.

There are several different types of migraine, which can affect where and how intense you feel pain. Some migraine comes with aura, which causes sensory probs that can affect your vision, hearing, muscle strength, or motor skills. Migraine with aura may or may not include a headache.

Treatment for migraine can include a mix of prescription or OTC meds, as well as lifestyle changes or home remedies. If your migraine attacks continue, become worse, or start affecting the quality of your life, talk with your doc for help.