Migraine Overview and Impact

Get an introduction to migraine disease, and find more information about the burden, clinical phases, and classification of migraine below

Expert Video: What Is Migraine?

World-renowned expert David Dodick, MD, discusses how migraine is more than just a headache in this short video

Introduction: What Is Migraine?

Migraine Burden

Migraine is a major global health issue that affects over 10% of the population (≈ 1 billion people globally) and is the second leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide.1 In the United States, the prevalence of migraine is ≈ 12% and peaks in middle life (30-49 years of age), impacting patients in their prime working years.2,3 Approximately one-third of patients experience headache ≥ 4 days per month.4

The burden of migraine can impact several domains of patients’ lives.2,5-14

Patient burden of migraine overview and statistics Patient burden of migraine overview and statistics

Clinical Phases of Migraine

Migraine can be divided into 5 phases.15-19 In addition to the characteristic moderate-to-severe head pain experienced during the ictal period, each of these phases may be associated with a range of non-headache symptoms.15-25

Phases of migraine and associated symptoms
Five phases of migraine and their symptoms
Five phases of migraine and their symptoms

Migraine has a complex pathophysiology that is becoming better understood.26 Recent studies have shown that several anatomic regions and molecular pathways underlie the multifaceted symptoms across all phases of migraine.27-30

Migraine Severity and Disease Progression

Clinical findings suggest that migraine can progress over time.31,32 Approximately 3% of patients with migraine transition from episodic migraine (< 15 headache days per month) to chronic migraine (≥ 15 headache days per month for > 3 months, with features of migraine ≥ 8 days per month) every year.15,31,33 Conversely, one study showed that over a 2 year period, 26% of patients with chronic migraine transitioned back to episodic migraine.34 Several factors have been associated with this progression, including the presence of cutaneous allodynia, the presence of nausea, and the effectiveness of acute medication, with less optimal responses increasing the likelihood of a patient’s disease progressing over time.35,36 

Migraine can be treated with both acute and preventive therapies, and patients who experience frequent attacks (≥ 4 headache days per month) may require a multidisciplinary approach, which may include a combination of acute and preventive modalities as well as behavioral interventions as part of their treatment plan.33

Migraine may have long-term clinical and pathophysiologic consequences for patients, including medication overuse headache (MOH) and neurologic sequelae.15,31,37,38

 
 

Migraine may have long-term clinical and pathophysiologic consequences for patients, including medication overuse headache (MOH) and neurologic sequelae.15,31,37,38

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