Migraine Treatment Benefits the Whole Patient

Treating migraine brings multiple benefits to migraineurs, including improvement of psychological and social problems that frequently accompany the disorder, new research indicates.

In a review of studies published between 2000 and 2010, researchers found that among migraineurs with and without aura, the most common psychosocial difficulties (PSDs) included: fatigue; emotional problems, especially depression and anxiety; difficulties at work, such as decreased efficiency and absences; problematic social functioning and global disability, which encompasses all the psychosocial problems a person experiences because of migraine. 

Overall, researchers reviewed 51 studies, and found that symptomatic treatments—triptans in particular—provided improvement for emotional problems and work efficiency. The most important factors in improvement of PSDs, however, were prophylactic medications.

“Our results … show that symptomatic and prophylactic treatments, by decreasing headache frequency and reducing pain, also determine a reduction in patient difficulties, thus reducing the burden associated with migraine,” the authors wrote.

The authors also noted that the bulk of the studies they evaluated included information on pharmaceutical interventions of migraine, not on complementary therapies or psychological treatment.

Despite learning what makes PSDs better, researchers did not learn more about what makes migraine-related PSDs worse, and learning about these factors is important, too. “These actions might provide a wider understanding of the burden, personal and economic, associated with migraine,” the authors wrote.

Alberto Raggi from the Neurological Institute Carlo Besta IRCCS Foundation in Milan, Italy, led the study, which was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Headache and Pain.

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