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NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

AAN Press Releases
New Drug to Prevent Migraine May Start Working in Days 06.08.2016
Are Drops in Estrogen Levels More Rapid in Women with Migraine? 06.01.2016
AAN Updates Guidelines on Use of Botulinum Toxin for Spasticity, Headache, Other Brain Disorders 04.18.2016
Children Who Are Emotionally Abused May Be More Likely to Experience Migraine as Adults 03.02.2016
A New Marker for Migraine? 09.09.2015
Can Migraine Increase Your Risk of Stroke? 07.22.2015
Genes May Not Be to Blame for Link Between Migraine and Heart Disease 07.02.2015
Children Who Are Abused or Neglected More Likely to Experience Migraine as Adults 12.24.2014
Migraine May Double Risk for Facial Paralysis 12.17.2014
AAN: Risks of Opioids Outweigh Benefits for Headache, Low Back Pain, Other Conditions 09.29.2014
Migraine in Middle Age Linked to Increased Risk of Parkinson’s, Movement Disorders Later 09.17.2014
New Drugs Offer Hope for Migraine Prevention 04.22.2014
Does More Stress Equal More Headaches? 02.19.2014
Obesity May Be Associated with Even Occasional Migraines 09.11.2013
Migraine May Permanently Change Brain Structure 08.28.2013
Does Migraine Affect Income or Income Affect Migraine? 08.28.2013
Migraine and Depression Together May Be Linked with Brain Size 05.22.2013
AAN Releases List of Five Tests and Procedures You Should Question With Your Doctor 02.21.2013
Can Nerve Stimulation Help Prevent Migraine? 02.06.2013
Migraine Triggers May Not Be As Strong As You Think 01.23.2013
Migraine in Children May Affect School Performance 10.29.2012
Migraine Linked to Increased Risk of Depression in Women 02.22.2012
Mother’s Migraine May Increase Baby’s Risk of Colic 02.20.2012
Study: Giving Aspirin via IV Is Safe and Effective for Severe Headache 09.20.2010
Study: People With No Health Insurance Get Substandard Migraine Care 04.12.2010
Migraine and Depression May Share Genetic Component 01.13.2010
Migraine and Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Migraine Frequency Plays a Role 06.24.2009
Does Gene Show Link Between Migraine and Stroke or Heart Attacks? 02.16.2009
Have Migraine? Bigger Waistline May Be Linked 02.12.2009
Migraine Linked to Blood Clots in Veins 09.15.2008
Gene May Put Women with Migraine at Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke 07.30.2008
Combination Drug Taken Early Relieves Migraine Symptoms 07.07.2008
Botulinum Toxin Effective in Many Neurological Disorders, not Headache 05.05.2008
Migraine Increases Risk of Severe Skin Sensitivity and Pain 04.21.2008
Migraine Frequency Linked with Women’s Risk of Cardiovascular Disease 04.17.2008
Children with Migraine at Increased Risk of Sleep Disturbances 04.17.2008
Overuse of Codeine, Oxycodone and Barbiturates Increases Risk of Chronic Migraine 04.17.2008
High Blood Pressure May Protect Against Migraine 04.15.2008
Drug Doesn’t Help Prevent Migraine After All 02.11.2008
Study Finds Genetic Testing May Help People with Severe Type of Migraine 12.03.2007
Brain Differences Found in People with Migraine 11.19.2007
Depression in Women with Migraine Linked to Childhood Abuse 09.03.2007
New Treatment Effective for Most Severe Kind of Headache 08.27.2007
Teenagers from Low Income Families at Greater Risk of Migraine 07.02.2007
For Iraq Veterans, Migraines May Be Sign of Other Problems 05.03.2007
Migraines During Pregnancy Linked to Stroke and Other Vascular Diseases 05.01.2007
Teens with Migraine at Greater Risk of Suicide 04.30.2007
Does Migraine Protect Your Memory? 04.23.2007
Women with Migraines More Likely to Have Depression 01.08.2007
Many Teens Lose Migraines as They Reach Adulthood 10.23.2006
Migraines Prevalent in Teens, More Should Seek Treatment 03.24.2006
Bright Arctic Light Can Lead to Migraine 04.14.2005
Migraine Linked to Risky Heart Health 02.21.2005
New Guidelines for Treating Pediatric Migraine Released by American Academy of Neurology and Child Neurology Society 12.27.2004
Study Shows Coenzyme Q10 May Prevent Migraine 04.28.2004
Causes of Menstrual Migraine Explored 04.16.2002
Millions of Migraine Sufferers Could Benefit From Better Use of Medical Care 03.25.2002
Treating Eye Pain May Remove Other Migraine Symptoms 03.11.2002
Children Find Relief from Migraine through Biofeedback and Relaxation Training 01.08.2001

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The pain of a migraine headache is often described as an intense pulsing or throbbing pain in one area of the head. However, it is much more; the International Headache Society diagnoses a migraine by its pain and number of attacks (at least 5, lasting 4-72 hours if untreated), and additional symptoms including nausea and/or vomiting, or sensitivity to both light and sound. Migraine is three times more common in women than in men and affects more than 10 percent of people worldwide. Roughly one-third of affected individuals can predict the onset of a migraine because it is preceded by an "aura," visual disturbances that appear as flashing lights, zig-zag lines or a temporary loss of vision. People with migraine tend to have recurring attacks triggered by a number of different factors, including stress, anxiety, hormonal changes, bright or flashing lights, lack of food or sleep, and dietary substances.  Migraine in some women may relate to changes in hormones and hormonal levels during their menstrual cycle.  For many years, scientists believed that migraines were linked to the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the head. Investigators now believe that migraine has a genetic cause.


There is no absolute cure for migraine since its pathophysiology has yet to be fully understood.  There are two ways to approach the treatment of migraine headache with drugs: prevent the attacks, or relieve the symptoms during the attacks. Prevention involves the use of medications and behavioral changes.  Drugs originally developed for epilepsy, depression, or high blood pressure to prevent future attacks have been shown to be extremely effective in treating migraine. Botulinum toxin A has been shown to be effective in prevention of chronic migraine.  Behaviorally, stress management strategies, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, biofeedback mechanisms, and other therapies designed to limit daily discomfort, may reduce the number and severity of migraine attacks.  Making a log of personal triggers of migraine can also provide useful information for trigger-avoiding lifestyle changes, including dietary considerations, eating regularly scheduled meals with adequate hydration, stopping certain medications, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule. Hormone therapy may help some women whose migraines seem to be linked to their menstrual cycle. A weight loss program is recommended for obese individuals with migraine.Relief of symptoms, or acute treatments, during attacks consists of sumatriptan, ergotamine drugs, and analgesics such as ibuprofen and aspirin.  The sooner these treatments are administered, the more effective they are.


Responsive prevention and treatment of migraine is incredibly important.  Evidence shows an increased sensitivity after each successive attack, eventually leading to chronic daily migraine in some individuals  With proper combination of drugs for prevention and treatment of migraine attacks most individuals can overcome much of the discomfort from this debilitating disorder.  Women whose migraine attacks occur in association with their menstrual cycle are likely to have fewer attacks and milder symptoms after menopause.


Researchers believe that migraine is the result of fundamental neurological abnormalities caused by genetic mutations at work in the brain. New models are aiding scientists in studying the basic science involved in the biological cascade, genetic components and mechanisms of migraine. Understanding the causes of migraine as well as the events that effect them will give researchers the opportunity to develop and test drugs that could be more targeted to preventing or interrupting attacks entirely.  Therapies currently being tested for their effectiveness in treating migraine include magnesium, coenzyme Q10, vitamin B12, riboflavin, fever-few, and butterbur.   In 2010, a team of researchers found a common mutation in the gene TRESK which contains instructions for a certain  potassium ion channel.  Potassium channels are important for keeping a nerve cell at rest and mutations in them can lead to overactive cells that respond to much lower levels of pain.  Large genetic analyses similar to the one used to identify TRESK will most likely lead to the identification of a number of other genes linked to migraine.

View a list of studies currently seeking patients.

View more studies on this condition.

Read additional information from Medline Plus.


National Headache Foundation

Non-profit organization dedicated to service headache sufferers, their families, and the healthcare practitioners who treat them. Promotes research into headache causes and treatments and educates the public.

820 N. Orleans
Suite 411
Chicago, IL 60610-3132
Tel: 312-274-2650 888-NHF-5552 (643-5552)
Fax: 312-640-9049

Migraine Research Foundation

Assists migraine sufferers by providing information and support and by raising money to fund innovative research into its causes and better treatments.

300 East 75th Street
Suite 3K
New York, NY 10021
Tel: 212-249-5402
Fax: 212-249-5405

American Headache Society Committee for Headache Education (ACHE)

The American Headache Society Committee on Headache Education (ACHE) is a nonprofit patient-health professional partnership dedicated to advancing the treatment and management of patients with headache.

19 Mantua Road
Mt. Royal, NJ 08061
Tel: 856-423-0043
Fax: 856-423-0082

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