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Are Migraines Chronic Pain?

Exposure to bright light in certain situations can be excruciatingly painful, culminating in a powerful, throbbing headache that lasts for hours. Even worse, you experience the same pain about two weeks every month. What’s going on? You may be experiencing symptoms of a debilitating kind of headache called a migraine.

What’s a Migraine?

According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, “Chronic migraine is defined as having at least 15 headache days a month, with at least 8 days of having headaches with migraine features, for more than 3 months. Chronic headache begins as less frequent headache episodes that gradually change into a more frequent headache pattern.” They affect between three and five percent of the U.S. population, but the symptoms can be treated with medications such as ketamine.

Facts About Migraines

Migraine facts from the Migraine Research Foundation:

  • Migraine is a top-3 illness worldwide.
  • Nearly 25 percent of U.S. households have someone with migraine.
  • Twelve percent of the total population struggles with migraine.
  • Eighteen percent of U.S. women, six percent of men, and 10 percent of kids experience migraines.
  • It’s most frequent for people between 18 and 44 years old.
  • It’s prevalent in some families. About 90 percent of migraine sufferers know of other family members with a history of migraine.
  • People in the U.S. visit the emergency room every 10 seconds, complaining of head pain, with roughly a million visits attributed to acute migraine attacks.
  • A quarter of migraine sufferers experience a visual disruption called an aura, normally persisting less than an hour.
  • In 15 to 20 percent of attacks, other neurological symptoms start before actual head pain.
  • Did you know that more than four million adults have chronic daily migraines? Or that they have 15 or more migraine days monthly?
  • More than 20 percent of people with chronic migraine are disabled, and the risk of disability goes up sharply with the number of co-occurring conditions.
  • About 28 million women in the U.S. are affected by migraine, or roughly 85 percent of all chronic migraine sufferers.
  • Before puberty, boys get it more often. During adolescence, however, the risk of migraine and its seriousness increases in girls.

Are Migraines Chronic Pain?

Migraine pain can undoubtedly be considered chronic not only because of the duration involved, but also due to the fact its precise cause is unknown. It’s often been referred to as an “unseen” pain. Migraines are often misunderstood or scorned as “just a headache,” according to Harvard Medical School. But they can unsettle a person’s life, relationships, and their perception of well-being. A study from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, released in 2013 in PLoS One, discovered that people with chronic migraines have just as much social stigma as someone who suffers from epilepsy — an illness that makes far more apparent and dramatic symptoms.

What’s the Cause?

  • The quantity of episodic headaches gradually increases over time.
  • Medications that were used to care for headache episodes become misused in an effort to keep the increased flux of headaches manageable.
  • Mood disorders, particularly anxiety and depression.
  • Sleep patterns which are regularly disrupted.
  • You consume too much caffeine.
  • You or a biological relative has a record of severe emotional events or physical pain.

What About the Symptoms?

Individual migraines are mild to severe in strength, often typified by a pulsating or pounding feeling. Although they are often one-sided, they can happen anywhere on your head, neck, and face — or anywhere. At their worst, migraines are usually linked to light sensitivity, noise, and/or odors. Vomiting is one of the most widespread symptoms and it gets worse with activity, often resulting in patient disability. In many ways, migraines are similar to alcohol-related hangovers.

Diagnosis & Treatment

In spite of their dramatic symptoms, migraines are rarely ever caused by an underlying trouble that will appear on any testing, including MRIs of the brain. Many specialists don’t advocate brain imaging under any circumstance, even in serious cases, so long as the person’s symptoms are normal for migraines and the results of a neurological examination are normal. In some cases, a doctor may recommend the patient see a psychiatric specialist for further evaluation. In either case, the goal is to find the source of the headache symptoms.

Treatment may involve ketamine therapy, non-prescription pain relievers, or alternative therapy options.

Final Thoughts

A migraine is a powerful, debilitating kind of headache that affects millions of people, including children. If you suffer from migraines frequently and they affect your quality of life, see professional medical care. To learn more about treatment options that can help you find relief, contact us today.


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