Balance disorders and migraine

Gabriela F. Carvalho*, Kerstin Luedtke, Debora Bevilaqua-Grossi

*Corresponding author for this work


Background: Migraine is associated with motion sensitivity symptoms such as kinetosis, vestibular symptoms and balance alterations. While focus is given to headache management, addressing these symptoms is often neglected, although they are related to additional migraine burden and increased disability. Purpose: Our aim is to disseminate the current understanding of the motion sensitivity symptoms among patients with migraine, with focus on balance impairments. We discuss the susceptibility of migraine to motion sensitivity, its suggested mechanisms, the balance alterations during quiet standing, mobility tasks and reactions to external perturbations. The role of migraine subdiagnosis, implications for clinical practice and future perspectives are also acknowledged. Implications: Balance disorders are one of the signs reflecting a broader and complex spectrum of motion sensitivity, which are present even between attacks. Migraineurs are especially inherent to these symptoms probably due to brain hyperexcitability and to shared pathophysiological mechanisms. Patients, especially with aura and chronic migraine, exhibit balance instability during quiet standing under different surface and visual input conditions. Migraineurs demonstrated reduced limits of stability and lower performance on walk, transposing obstacles and sit to stand tasks. Only patients with aura present impairment of motor control reactions following external perturbations. Balance alterations are associated with falls and are influenced by aura, migraine frequency and psychosocial aspects, but not by vestibular symptoms or vestibular migraine diagnosis. There is a high demand for high quality of evidence regarding the assessment and care of motion sensitivity symptoms in migraineurs, considering approaches to manage not just the pain, but its associated symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102783
JournalMusculoskeletal Science and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 08.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Health Sciences

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 206-07 Clinical Neurology Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology
  • 206-05 Experimental Models for Investigating Diseases of the Nervous System

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