Migraine pain — it’s big, it’s real and it’s underappreciated

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Migraine pain — it’s big, it’s real and it’s underappreciated

By Michael Johnsen - 02/22/2018
People diagnosed with migraine experience on average only 15.4 completely pain-free days over the previous 30 days, Eli Lilly reported Tuesday as part of its recently published Migraine Impact Report. The report also highlighted the impact of migraine on a person’s day-to-day-life, with respondents noting the symptoms of their migraine prevented them from doing what they wanted to do for one week (6.9 days) over the previous 30 days.

“As a practicing neurologist, I saw firsthand both the burden faced by people living with this often disabling, neurological disease, and the feeling that people must ‘power through’ their lives because those around them may not understand just how all-encompassing migraine can be,” Sheena Aurora, medical fellow, Eli Lilly and Company, said.

Notably, the worst migraine pain ranked higher than that of childbirth among those surveyed who had experienced both. Respondents diagnosed with migraine on average rated the worst migraine pain similarly to that of the “most painful thing I have ever experienced” and higher than both the pain associated with kidney stones and broken bones.

People who do not have migraine often underestimate the pain and average duration of migraine. Nearly all respondents diagnosed with migraine (91%) agreed those who do not suffer from migraine do not understand the severity of the disease. And 62% of those surveyed who were diagnosed with migraine agreed they try to hide the true impact of migraine from those at work or at school.

On average, respondents diagnosed with migraine estimated the length of a migraine as 10.3 hours longer than those respondents who do not have migraine (an average score of 31 hours per migraine compared to an average score of 20.7 hours per migraine, respectively).

Among those diagnosed with migraine, 82% of survey respondents agreed it is stressful to have an unpredictable disease like migraine. Respondents diagnosed with migraine missed an average of 7.4 important events in the previous year due to migraine, such as birthdays, graduations or holiday gatherings. Nearly three-quarters of respondents diagnosed with migraine (70%) agreed with the statement, “I’ve avoided making plans because of migraine."

“Results from the Migraine Impact Report support what physicians who care for patients with migraine have known for many years. The results also demonstrate the severity of this disease and the pervasive impact migraine has on an individual’s personal, family and professional life,” Timothy Smith, vice president, National Headache Foundation, said. “These findings shine a spotlight on the serious need for additional treatment options for the more than 36 million Americans battling with migraine, many of whom lack a treatment option that addresses their symptoms and allows them to function in their day-to-day lives or which is tolerable for them.”

Respondents included 1,018 U.S. adults, including 518 people who have been diagnosed with migraine by a healthcare provider, 200 people who know someone with migraine and 300 community members who do not know someone with migraine.