Urgent Call for More Migraine Research

Urgent Call for More Migraine Research

By Ed Coghlan

When the American Headache Society Scientific Meeting starts in San Diego on Thursday (June 9), you will hear more than one call for more research into the problems of headaches, migraines and facial pain.

And the research is vitally needed, according to one of the world’s leading headache experts.

“If you look at the NIH’s five-year plan, migraines are the least well-funded area of any research that it funds,” said AHS’ Dr. Peter Goadsby, who is chief of the UC San Francisco (UCSF) Headache Center.

He called the lack of funding “nothing short of a scandal.”

Dr. Goadsby believes that we have a generational opportunity to study headaches. The combination of veterans with P.T.S.D. and head injuries who served in Afghanistan and Iraq combined with the large number of sports-relates concussions is creating a large number of patients from whom much can be learned.

Dr. Goadsby, who sees patients who have cluster headaches, migraine and tension headaches, has a point.

According to the World Health Association, headaches are the third highest cause of years lost to disability (YLD). If you only count migraines, that would be the sixth largest cause YLD.

June is Migraine Awareness Month and not coincidentally is also when the American Headache Society holds its scientific meeting.

The American Headache Society (AHS) is a professional society of health care providers dedicated to the study and treatment of headache and face pain. The meeting will attract physicians, nurses and other health care providers to hear about progress that is being made in the battle against headaches and facial pain.

Dr. Goadsby said that three main areas will be highlighted at the meeting as a number of scientific papers and sessions have been schedule for presentation and discussion.

“We’ll spend time talking about what we are learning about the biology of migraines and headaches, the impact that they have and, of course, some of the progress we are making in treating them,” he told the National Pain Report.

Dr. Goadsby said in another recent interview that there are some promising therapies on the horizon.

“The next step, which will be an even completely new class of treatments, the so-called calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP receptor antagonist, a whole group of new words to learn so to speak, that will provide further benefits, again probably in this headache recurrence area and important improvements in safety. It’s a very bright time for the migraineur,” he said in an interview on the UCSF website.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, amazingly, 12% of the population – including children – suffers from migraine. It is found more often in women than men, 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children experience migraines.

More on the AHS meeting as it gets underway in San Diego.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 6 comments for this article
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  2. Harry at 1:16 am

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  3. dave at 4:01 pm

    Migraine research reminds me of fibromyalgia research- its not considered important by government or the health care industry- despite migraine being more prevalent then diabetes or asthma. In a real sense they are orphaned diseases- especially compared to cancer.
    More money for research for migraines is all too little to make a difference. We need much greater sense of urgency, much greater cooperation in our society– a syncretistic approach, much more willing to create new treatments and a much greater willingeness to recognize how current efforts not only fall short of what is needed but arent on the right track.
    Like most pain conditions we are too attached to ways that do too little and unwilling to explore the potential that very different approaches might have.
    Although I only had a migraine once- that was enough to clue me in on how overpowering and painful they are. All you have to do is look at the face of someone suffering a migraine- and you can sense how bad migraines can be. And cluster headaches-similar to migraines are about as bad as it gets in pain- alongside of thunderclap headaches(both aka suicide headaches).
    And so along with neuropathic pain conditions and fibromalgia I have a focus on helping those with migraine. I hope the powers that be will take migraines much more seriously and entertain blue ocean strategies and syncretistic approaches to make real progress in helping those with migraines.

  4. Jean Price at 1:26 pm

    Migraines also seem to be a symptom in many other disorders, so researching them may lead to breakthroughs in the medical problems they are part of. Unlike other some other types of pain, migraines are very often impossible to distract from, meditate through, use relaxation therapy to counter, or use mindfulness therapy to help…and can place the person in a position of total inability to function. I would hope the incentive for research would consider the fact that so many other issues are connected with migraines and research would definitely be in order for this type of pain and the disorder in general. Sad to think there has been so little to date and so little to offer the people whose lives are consumed by migraines. Also sadly there is a lot of quackery involved in headache treatments and people will try just about anything to find relief, whether it’s sensible or not. On the other hand, some people have found some relief from home remedies and it’s so very individual, that you almost have to try them all to see what if anything will work for you. Mayo has done some research in the past, and with their reputation, I’d think that’s a good place to go to for care that helps. They don’t need a referral and they take most insurances, so the major expense is the travel and lodging. But those can be discounted, since they work in league with Mayo. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers from migraines…it’s a tough thing to deal with on many levels.

  5. Sara B at 10:37 am

    Thank you for your recent migraine & headache disorder coverage. It’s vital for our community!

  6. Christine Taylor at 6:30 am

    Face pain and migraine is what makes me stay in bed. They are pretty debilitating and when it starts it can last days and even weeks. Before I had treatment they were never ending.