Study: Chronic Migraine is Disabling and Severely Affects the Ability to Lead a Productive Life

The National Headache Foundation‘s American Migraine Prevalence & Prevention Study data have been reanalyzed to reveal just how debilitating chronic migraine is. Chronic migraineurs have migraine episodes at least 15 days a month and most have pain every day. Approximately one million people -– mostly women -– have chronic migraine.

Key findings of the study, from a NHF press release:

Chronic migraine remains a largely under-diagnosed and under-treated medical condition.

While the vast majority of individuals with chronic migraine (87.6%) had sought care from a healthcare professional, just 20.2% of those with chronic migraine received a diagnosis of chronic migraine, chronic daily headache or transformed migraine. Another nearly 14% were told that they had rebound headache or medication overuse headache.

Migraine-specific acute treatments were used by 31.6% of respondents with chronic migraine. Almost half (48%) of the individuals with chronic migraine were satisfied with their acute therapies. A third of those with chronic migraine (33.3%) were currently using preventive medications.

Although most individuals with chronic migraine sought medical care for this disorder, the majority did not receive specific acute or preventive medications.

One in five chronic migraine sufferers cannot work due to the severity of their condition.

Over a 3-month period, 8.2% of the chronic migraineurs missed at least 5 days of work and school. Further, slightly more than a third (33.8%) of these sufferers reported at least 5 days of significant reduction in productivity during the same time frame.

Chronic migraine severely impacts one’s ability to lead a productive life.

More than half of those with chronic migraine (57.4%) missed at least 5 days of household work, and 58.1% reported a reduction in productivity in household work for at least 5 days within the last three months.

Chronic migraineurs also reported missing out on at least 5 days of family activities within the three month period.

“With one in five chronic migraine sufferers not being able to work due to the severity of their condition, the human and economic costs to these patients, their families and their employers are staggering,” said Suzanne E. Simons, Executive Director, National Headache Foundation. “This report shows there is much work to be done to help them get the proper diagnosis and treatment they need to be able to lead productive lives.”

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6 Responses to “Study: Chronic Migraine is Disabling and Severely Affects the Ability to Lead a Productive Life”

  1. jeselle Says:

    Dear Kerrie,

    Migraine certainly has cignificantly disrupted my life and alof of lives from the blogs I lead. I wish more could be done. I know that I’ve been looking for a cure or a better way to manage these beasts but there isn’t alot of success. Yup, alot of lost productivity at home, at work, and on the social front. It can be tricky with the marriage. Eee gads. It’s a tough row. I think if this were predominantly a
    men’s illness maybe there would be more done?

  2. K1Frog2 Says:

    It’s about time! I’m getting tired of being seen as a slacker when I miss work for a headache!

  3. stoic110 Says:

    hmm… i’m a gay man and i suffer from severe chronic migraines, but find it interesting that the condition seems to be focused in the female population. i wonder if there is a correlation between sexuality rather than simply gender? does anyone know if such research has been done?

    as a graduate student i don’t have many formal obligations, but miss out on lots of potentially productive time due to debilitating migraines – the most recent of which has been lingering for upwards of 15 days. no preventative or acute therapies have been successful as of yet. alas, frequent pain has become the norm.

  4. Migraine Chick Says:

    I always feel like a slacker at work, when I’m not, and I’m always struggling to keep up with housework! I hate living with daily chronic pain!

  5. Shawnie Says:

    I have been on permanet disability for chronic pain, migraines for 30 years. If, in a 3 month period, I only missed out on 5 days, I would call that a good 3 months. Probably the best in years.
    I hope to get to that someday. Then I could go back to work and have a life I could count on.

  6. NHKAT Says:

    I’m a bartender and I just lost my weekend (money making) job due to my migraines. I had one like 4 weekends in a row, I worked anyway (throwing up in the bathroom every hour or so), they didn’t tell me it was migraines but that they had complaints I was too slow “lately”. I wonder if any of them could do it at all in the condition I was in. So, now I just have my weekday job and, I am hoping I can make it on that.


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