Our panel of experts and a patient advocate for the migraine community discussed treatment and research developments, patient advocacy and more.
Closing out a wildly successful Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, panelists at the American Migraine Foundation Migraine’s State of the Union brought news, updates and a message of hope to the live audience.
Dr. Lawrence Newman, AMF Chair, Dr. Christine Lay, AMF Vice-Chair, Dr. Andrew Charles, American Headache Society President, and Dr. Rashmi Halker Singh, Associate Professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic, shared the many advances in research and treatment for migraine. Additionally, patient advocate Cherise Irons recounted her story of managing migraine and finding confidence with the help of the AMF’s Emerging Advocate Program.
The Future Is Bright for Our Union
With the rapid developments being made in research, medicine and treatment for migraine, healthcare professionals are able to offer more help than ever to patients. The AMF is walking arm-in-arm with other organizations at the forefront to continue making new discoveries and improvements.
“There has never been a better time to be a part of this migraine community,” Dr. Newman said. “Our union is stronger than it’s ever been. Each year, our community continues to grow, as does our reach and influence.”
Joining this community is aligning yourself with the support of thousands of others managing migraine, the latest from the world’s most prominent headache specialists and access to a revolving door of resources to help each person live relentlessly in the face of migraine.
Migraine Treatments Are Growing
One of the biggest breakthroughs shared at this year’s State of the Union is in the certainty healthcare professionals now have in both diagnosing and treating migraine. Having both a diagnosis and a treatment is essential to forming an effective migraine management plan.
“We’re finally able to say to a patient, ‘You have migraine, and here’s a treatment for migraine,’” said Dr. Lay. In the past, a diagnosis did not always come with an effective strategy for treatment. Now, there are a number of treatments available to manage migraine.
“Everything from medications, to injections, to devices and more are available for patients,” Dr. Lay added. “This provides a broad basis for each person to find what works for them.”
To learn about the most current migraine treatments, visit our New Migraine Treatments webinar with Dr. Jessica Ailani and Dr. Stewart Tepper.
New Studies Are Giving Us Unmatched Insight into Migraine
Migraine is an invisible disease that has been notoriously difficult to make sense of. Fortunately, new methods of examining the brain, known as functional imaging studies, are shedding light on longstanding theories about migraine.
Dr. Charles, President of the American Headache Society, expounded on the new research. “Now, we can see activation of different regions of the brain that correspond to symptoms of migraine. We can actually see the brain changes that are taking place as part of migraine.” This is a monumental achievement for tireless researchers in the field. Being able to visibly track migraine, in real time, opens the door to more treatment options in the future.
“These sorts of imaging studies have been pivotal in helping us understand what’s going on with migraine,” Dr. Charles shared with the audience.
The Migraine Community Is Thriving
What was once a scattered migraine community has evolved into a much more unified force dedicated to taking care of one another, offering guidance, providing resources and donating to the cause. In fact, Dr. Halker Singh found this to be one of the most thrilling aspects of all.
“What excites me right now is the community we’ve been able to build for those with migraine,” Dr. Halker Singh said. For anyone managing migraine, a supportive community is essential to not only a person’s emotional wellbeing, but their ability to stay encouraged, informed and involved. Furthermore, advocating for oneself is a process that is learned best in a community.
“We need to help our patients advocate for themselves,” added Dr. Halker Singh. What better way for this to happen than with the support of an entire community?
Advocacy Is Rising
Migraine does not discriminate and affects men, women and children of all ages. Unfortunately, stigma prevents many people from seeking the care they desperately need. Advocacy is a critical way to educate others about what migraine is and is not. It gives those suffering in silence the courage they need to speak up and change lives for the better.
Migraine advocate Cherise Irons shared her story of losing her career due to migraine and feeling lost. Through entering the Migraine Moment Short Film Contest, she came in contact with the American Migraine Foundation and subsequently joined the Emerging Advocate Program. This ended up helping her get back on track.
“I look at the EAP as ‘boots on the ground,’” Irons said. “We are the face to the actual research being done. It’s one thing to share data. It’s another to see a real person in front of you saying, ‘I am a person, and I suffer with this disease.’”
With the migraine community constantly expanding, advocacy is on the rise—and more lives of those managing migraine will be improved in the process.
Launching Into the Rest of 2022 and Beyond
Our panelists closed out the State of the Union in the same way they opened it—with hope. Dr. Charles urged patients to stay strong. “Don’t give up,” he said. “There’s so much promise right now. Almost weekly we’re seeing new developments in migraine research that can help with treatment.”
Dr. Halker Singh added to this by highlighting the professional community that is working tirelessly to bring solutions to those living with migraine. “I have 700 board-certified, headache specialist friends who care about you,” she said. “You are not alone.”
Dr. Lay turned attention to the workplace and the ground-breaking advancements being made there. “Migraine is the number one cause of disability in the workplace,” she said. “Through the Global Patient Advocacy Coalition (GPAC), we are engaging with major corporations who have large numbers of employees to educate all, whether they manage migraine or not, on the disease.”
Dr. Newman left the audience with a parting quote to frame the night: “The past is in your head, the future is in your hands.” With all of the major developments within the migraine community, there are reasons to celebrate and look ahead to a wonderful future. We’ve come so far as a community. Remember, the work doesn’t stop here.
Together, we are as relentless as migraine.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.