Migraine therapy alleviates more than just the headache

Published on October 10, 2012 at 9:15 AM · No Comments

By Lauretta Ihonor, medwireNews Reporter

Treating the pain associated with migraine can also improve the social and psychologic problems experienced by individuals affected by the condition, findings from a systematic review suggest.

Indeed, the analysis of 51 studies involving migraine patients revealed that use of migraine treatments and a fall in headache frequency both predict improvement in existing psychosocial difficulties (PSDs) among migraine patients.

"Our results confirm that migraine is a burdensome disease and that migraineurs experience several PSDs, in particular emotional problems, reduced vitality, pain, increased disability, difficulties with work, mental and physical health, and social functioning," say the authors.

Alberto Raggi (Neurological Institute Carlo Besta IRCCS Foundation, Milan, Italy) and co-authors explain that the identification of the relationship between migraine and PSDs "is of primary public health relevance, given the high prevalence and the relevant personal and societal costs of migraine."

They therefore recommend "prevention programs focusing on the PSDs associated with migraine."

As reported in the Journal of Headache and Pain, the 51-study review led to the identification of 34 PSDs reported by or observed among patients with a clinical diagnosis of migraine with or without aura (using the International Headache Society's migraine classification criteria).

Of these PSDs, emotional problems, poor social functioning, difficulties at work, and reduced vitality and fatigue were among the most commonly reported.

Assessment of clinical variables showed that although migraine treatment-use and headache frequency were the best predictors for PSD improvements, pain was also found to influence the development of PSDs (fatigue, cognitive functions, and work difficulties) in two studies.

Raggi et al say that improvement of PSDs was not only achieved by the treatment of existing migraines; prophylactic use of migraine medication also predicted PSD improvement.

"There is strong evidence that these medications positively affect emotional problems, improve work efficiency, global disability, physical and mental health," explain the authors.

Raggi and team conclude that "a wider understanding of the burden, personal and economic, associated with migraine" is needed.

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