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.