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Do strokes always show up on a brain scan?
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An_248898 posted:
I guess I should share more information about why I'm asking and about myself. I'm a 25 year old white female, overweight but with normal cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.

Last year I had this incident that started with a tingling/numbness in my hand, it went up my arm, and then I had this sudden, severe head pain. My vision got blurry, I felt weak and I couldn't string together my thoughts. I staggered to my mother and just crouched onto the floor holding my head. I was dizzy and it took several minutes for it to go away.

Because I don't have insurance I didn't go to the hospital and I couldn't/can't afford anymore medical bills. While I was still weak, uncoordinated and with my head hurting, I did manage to get home that day (I was out in public when this happened).

A month later the headache wasn't going away (and hasn't since for any measurable amount of time) so I went to the doctor. They immediately scheduled me for an MRI of my head, but it came back clear- no sign of stroke or any of the other issues they were looking for.

Is it possible that I suffered a stroke and it isn't showing up? I didn't lose consciousness, but I'm also rather young for one so I don't know if it that would be age-related. I still have a headache (despite prescription and non-prescription medications) and my existing memory problems seem to have gotten worse. Sometimes, I have trouble speaking.
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Richard C Senelick, MD responded:
Yours is an unusual situation. As I read the first part of your note, I was convinced you had migraine headcahes. The march of the numbness up your arm followed by the headache is "classic." Migraine headaches can be associated with many neurologic symptoms.

What is unusual is the peristence of your headache. I think you need to see a neurologist for further examination. You may very well have migraine and there are a number of excellent medications. You also might need a MRA to look at the blood vessels in your brain.

Here is the link to the WebMD section on Migraine.

Good luck
After your stroke you may be experiencing a new normal, but remember what George Eliot said- It is never too late to be what you might have been. You still can achieve new goals.


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Richard C. Senelick M.D. is a physician specializing in both neurology and the subspecialty of neurorehabilitation. He did his undergraduate and medic...More

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