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New research presented at the American Headache Society’s 63rd Annual Scientific Meeting reportedly outlined the link between migraine and history of mild traumatic brain injury. Most TBIs that occur each year are mild TBIs or concussions and can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth — like a car crash.
According to study results, a history of mild traumatic brain injury is associated with disability and severity of migraine. As the authors explained, a head injury is a risk factor for chronic migraine, while migraine is also a risk factor for persistent and more severe headache following an mTBI or concussion.
However, as the authors reportedly noted: “The prevalence of prior mTBI in patients presenting to tertiary care with migraine as a chief complaint, and the relationship between prior mTBI with the clinical features and disability associated with migraine, is not well known.”
To conduct the study, the researchers assessed survey responses of 1098 people who suffer from migraines without a prior diagnosis of posttraumatic headache (PTH). They then compared demographics, headache characteristics, Migraine Disability Assessment Scale (MIDAS), and other factors between migraineurs with a history of mTBI and those without. They compared demographics, headache characteristics, Migraine Disability Assessment Scale (MIDAS), and other factors between migraineurs with a history of mTBI and those without. Of the 1098 participants, 413 reported a history of mTBI, while these individuals were more likely to have dizziness, vertigo, and difficulty finding words.
Other findings in the study include:
Despite the fact that the underlying mechanisms of PTH and migraine are not well understood, the results indicate the conditions could have similar roots. Some headaches following TBI may also be migraine exacerbations or examples of new-onset migraine followed by injury, although PTH is typically a distinct headache type following TBI.
Based on this, the authors concluded that a history of mTBI should be assessed in patients presenting migraine. Also, people with migraine who have a high exposure risk to mTBI or repetitive head impacts should be aware of the potential for migraine progression after mTBI.
Every year an estimated 42 million people worldwide suffer a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. More severe traumatic brain injury is a well-established risk factor for a variety of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and dementia.