Migraines & MS: What’s the Connection?

Posted and filed under Health Awareness.

While migraines have left the medical community puzzled for many years, experts are establishing links among certain conditions which may leave individuals predisposed to them. In specific, recent studies indicated that patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are at least three times as likely to experience migraines, compared to people who do not have the disease. While a concrete explanation for the link has yet to be established, there are some theories which researchers have speculated on.

Reasons for Migraines & MS

One possible explanation for the increase in migraines among MS patients is the fact that MS is at least two to three times more common in women than men, and women are also two to three times more likely to experience migraines compared to men.

Yet, there could be other mechanisms at play. For instance, altered pain perception and threshold could cause a more significant level of pain in patients with MS. And, patients with migraines are more likely to experience additional pain syndromes, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.

Addressing Migraines in MS Patients

Although the precise mechanisms behind the prevalence of migraines in MS patients may have yet to be identified, patients experiencing migraines can still find relief in the meantime. Since the link is still unknown, most doctors treat migraines and MS as separate entities. In general, most patients respond well to migraine treatments, but it’s also important to consider headache as a potential side effect from medications used to treat MS. In particular, disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) tend to illicit headaches, while as many as 80% of MS patients have described headaches as a symptom after beginning any form of MS therapy.

If you’re experiencing migraines, be sure to discuss the symptom with your doctor. In cases with severe, persistent migraines, expertise from a neurologist may be needed to aid in making informed treatment decisions.

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