How common is Vestibular Migraine?

Vestibular migraine is a frequent cause of dizziness characterized by episodes of vertigo and/or disequilibrium lasting minutes to days, with associated migraine headaches or migraine prodromal symptoms. Vertigo and migraine are both very common complaints among patients. Additionally, migraine and vertigo are two very prevalent conditions in the general population.

Persons with concurrent vertigo and headache experience severe headaches accompanied with nausea and vomiting, which might be associated with frequent attacks of vertigo.

In 1999, Dieterich and Brandt introduced the term “Vestibular Migraine” o describe the clinical condition that associated with vestibular symptoms and migraine headache (Dieterich and Brandt, 1999).

Is Vestibular Migraine common?

Vestibular migraine is likely to be the most common cause of spontaneous episodic vertigo in adults and accounts for about 10% of all patients presenting at a dizziness unit (Strupp M et al 2010)

Overall, the prevalence in the general population is about 1% (Neuhauser HK et al 2006)

Are men or women more common to have Vestibular Migraine?

Women are more common to have Vestibular Migraines. There is a five to one gender ratio between males and females.

Could Vestibular Migraine be associated with other conditions?

About 90% of vestibular migraine patients are already labeled as migraineurs before the diagnosis of vestibular migraine.

Additionally, there could be acute secondary vestibular comorbidities in patients who have vestibular migraine. This is usually BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) – the sudden sensation that you’re spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning. BPPV causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness.

Comorbid BPPV and VM are not uncommon, with multiple studies linking or implicating BPPV to migraines and vestibular migraines.

Additionally, neck pain (i.e. cervicalgia) is a common migraine trigger. Neck pain could be a significant provocative factor and one that we would ask if you notice a temporal pattern or association.

What can we do to help you with you Vestibular Migraine?

Overall, vestibular migraine is a complex disorder that requires the appropriate diagnosis first. The mechanism of vestibular migraine remains unclear and is still under investigation, therefore, the treatments can vary.

Treatment will most likely need medical management with medications. As physical therapists, we find that vestibular therapy and treatment to the neck can be significant factors to help you function with higher quality of life. This can involve gaze stabilization exercises, canalith repositioning maneuvers, manual therapy and exercise for the neck.

We examine what triggers and aggravating factors you may have and figure out a customized program for you.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.