Migraine: A Debilitating Neurological Disorder
Migraine is a debilitating neurological disorder, and is characterized by episodic attacks that typically manifest themselves as moderate to severe headaches. Associated symptoms often include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), and visual disturbances or aura. Migraines usually involve “pounding” or “throbbing” pain on one side of the head, although pain may occur on both sides. Migraines limit the normal functioning of patients, who often seek dark, quiet surroundings until the episode has passed. According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), untreated migraine attacks typically last between four and 24 hours, but some may last as long as three days. According to published studies, migraine sufferers experience 1 to 3 migraine attacks per month on average, although 25 percent experience one or more attacks per week. According to the NHF, approximately 30 million people in the United States suffer from migraine. The disorder is more common in women, with about 18% of women affected and 6% of men. Migraine prevalence is highest during the peak productive ages of 25 to 55, which results in high costs to employers and managed care organizations.
Migraine is amount the top 20 causes of disabling conditions and in the top four neurologic disabling conditions listed by the World Health Organization.
Related disability from migraine is substantial, with over 90% of sufferers experiencing functional impairment with their migraine that can disrupt every aspect of day-to-day life, including work, school, and family and social relationships. More than half of sufferers report severe impairment or the need for bed rest as a result of their migraines, according to published surveys. The economic burden of migraine remains substantial despite existing treatments, with the combination of direct and indirect costs of migraine in the United States estimated at over $20 billion annually.
Prevalence and burden of migraine in US from AMSII study, Lipton 2001.
International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICDH-1, 1988; ICDH-2, 2004.
Prevalence of Migraine Headache in the United States. Stewart WF, Lipton RB, Celentano DD, Reed ML. JAMA 1992; 267:64-9.
Global Burden of Disease 2000, World Health Report 2002.