Abdominal Migraine


Abdominal migraine is a disorder primarily of children which presents with episodes of abdominal pain without an accompanying headache. It is difficult to confirm the diagnosis as there are not a set of features that is specific and thus it can take time before the diagnosis is made. The condition is rare in adults; however, children diagnosed with abdominal migraines may have migraine headaches as adults.

Signs and Symptoms

As with other types of migraines, there is no diagnostic test to identify abdominal migraines. Diagnosis is based on symptoms, a family history of migraines, and eliminations of other possible causes. Common migraine triggers may also trigger abdominal migraines.

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Light sensitivity


The diagnosis of abdominal migraines was once considered controversial but is now accepted as a common cause of chronic abdominal pain in children. Diagnostic criteria from the International Classification of Headache Disorders as of 2004 are:

A. At least 5 attacks fulfilling criteria B-D.
B. Attacks of abdominal pain lasting 1–72 hours (untreated or unsuccessfully treated)
C. Abdominal pain has all of the following characteristics:
1. midline location, periumbilical or poorly localized
2. dull or "just sore" quality
3. moderate or severe intensity
D. During abdominal pain at least 2 of the following:
1. loss of appetite
2. nausea
3. vomiting
4. pallor
E. Not attributed to another disorder


Abdominal migraines are a type of functional pain.


This condition was first described in 1921 by Buchanan.