The Migraine World Summit, now in its ninth year,  brings leading migraine and headache specialists together for a weeklong educational event. This year’s event, held between March 6 – 13, 2024, brought together 32 experts who are researching migraine and headache, developing breakthrough technologies, seeing patients daily and publishing journal articles.

American Migraine Foundation’s Chair, Christine Lay, MD, FAHS, and Editorial Board member,  Rashmi B. Halker Singh, MD, FAHS, FAAN were included in this year’s event. Here is an overview of their presentations. 

Menopause, Perimenopause & Migraine

Research has shown that migraine can become worse during perimenopause and menopause. Migraine attacks can occur more frequently, be longer in duration, more disabling and harder to get rid of with medication that has worked in the past. Dr. Lay discussed what happens to migraine during perimenopause and menopause along with suggestions for how to manage migraine during this time. 

Dr. Lay explained that during perimenopause the period may become less reliable, which can make migraine more unpredictable and more challenging to manage for those who have lived with menstrual migraine. Other issues, such as sleep disturbances from hot flashes, can also make people vulnerable to a migraine attack. 

She says that about 6 – 7% of people are thought to have menstrual-related migraine. These people are most likely to see a reprieve from migraine following menopause. They are also more vulnerable to an increase in attacks during perimenopause. 

Dr. Lay recommends patients speak to their doctors if they notice that they are having a harder time managing their migraine and it continues to worsen over a three to six-month period. Patients should also tell their doctor if they are having trouble sleeping or having a new type of headache, such as one that wakes them up in the middle of the night

There are several different treatments available to help patients during perimenopause and menopause, including medications that can treat hot flashes that are also helpful for migraine. Lifestyle changes and neuromodulation devices may also be recommended. 

Migraine, TMD & Neck Pain

Many people living with migraine experience neck and jaw pain, but it is often difficult to determine if it is a symptom, trigger, or primary condition. In her interview, Dr. Rashmi Halker Singh discussed the interconnection and how doctors and patients can work together to better diagnose and treat this pain. 

Dr. Singh covered various types of conditions that can produce neck and jaw pain including occipital neuralgia, cervicogenic headache, and TMD. She suggests patients talk to their clinician if their treatment plan is addressing other issues such as nausea and photophobia, but neck or jaw pain is still an issue.  

Doctors may be able to determine the origin of pain by taking a thorough history, examining the patient or by using imaging. Depending on the cause, treatments vary and can include preventive medications, nerve blocks or physical therapy. Relaxation or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also be suggested. 

Dr. Singh also emphasizes self-care to all of her patients and recommends the SEED acronym, which stands for Sleep, Exercise, Eating, Diary and Stress management. She tells her patients with migraine to be gentle with themselves since migraine is very unpredictable. Since there are many times that a person with migraine won’t feel well, she recommends planning for more opportunities, such as exercising. That way they will still have opportunities they can plan to accomplish. 

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