Coexisting epilepsy and migraine:

  • Both disorders occur together at an increased prevalence, but attacks occur independently

Migraine-induced epilepsy (migralepsy):

  • Seizures are triggered by migraine aura

Epilepsy-induced headache (ictal or postictal):

  • Headache occurs as part of seizure or postictal state

Primary epilepsy-migraine syndromes:

  • Syndromes with features of both migraine and epilepsy without a specific underlying cause
    • Occipital epilepsies (e.g., benign occipital epilepsy)
    • Benign rolandic epilepsy

Secondary epilepsy-migraine syndromes:

  • Both migraine and epilepsy occur in the same individual with a common underlying cause
    • Mitochondrial disorders (MELAS)
    • Symptomatic (e.g., arteriovenous malformation of occipital lobe)
      • Neurofibromatosis
      • Sturge-Weber

MELAS = mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes.

Table adapted from F Andermann. Migraine and Epilepsy: An Overview. In F Andermann, E Lugaresi (eds), Migraine and Epilepsy. Boston: Butterworths, 1987;405-421; and KM Welch, D Lewis. Migraine and epilepsy. Neurol Clin 1997;15:107-114. Adapted from: Silberstein, SD, and Lipton RB. Headache and epilepsy. In: Ettinger AB and Devinsky O, eds. Managing epilepsy and co-existing disorders. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2002;246. With permission from Elsevier (

Authored By: 
F Andermann
Reviewed By: 
Steven C. Schachter MD
Thursday, April 1, 2004