Chronic vs. Episodic Migraine Studied in Scientific Journal

New research shows a stark divide between chronic vs. episodic migraine. 

Migraine significantly affects the people who live with it. Yet it impacts everyone differently, especially when it comes to how frequently people experience migraine. In a recently published study, researchers looked at the difference between episodic vs. chronic migraine and determined that the lives of people with chronic migraine are more affected than those with episodic migraine.

This may seem like an obvious answer—more headache days mean less comfort for people with migraine. According to Sharron Murray, MS, RN, researchers expected to see this difference. But they did not predict the gap in quality of life between episodic vs. chronic migraine would be so large.

“The outcome was staggering,” Murray says. “The results were expected but not to the degree that they occurred in terms of people with chronic migraine.”

Murray, also a Move Against Migraine moderator and a patient advocate, sat down with the American Migraine Foundation to discuss the importance of the study’s findings. She also highlights the need for people with migraine to educate themselves about their disease.

Study Findings 

Researchers surveyed people with migraine about their relationships, careers and finances. They found chronic migraine patients were twice as likely to say that all aspects of their lives were affected, compared with episodic migraine patients.

“The message is loud and clear: migraine can disrupt all important aspects of our lives.” she says. Many people relate to this finding, but it’s significant that researchers are studying the effects of migraine and determining its impact.

Murray adds that migraine doesn’t just impact the people who have it, but their families as well. Those close to people with migraine also feel the effects of the disease. While they might not experience migraine firsthand, they often need to learn how to best support people with migraine.

A Validating Conclusion

Despite the nature of the results, Murray points out how validating the study’s conclusion is for people with migraine. Those living with migraine know the toll it can take on their lives, a toll that is sometimes compounded by common migraine misconceptions. Now, there is scientific evidence supporting the idea that more headache days means a greater effect on a person with migraine.

“For me personally, I could relate to the data,” she says. “When you have episodic migraine, you experience an impact on your quality of life. In this study, we could really see how much that was magnified for people with chronic migraine. The data really validated that for myself and others with migraine.”

Knowledge is Power

Murray says the study highlights that people with migraine need to learn more about their disease. She notes that self-advocacy is incredibly important, and believes it starts by becoming informed about migraine.

“Knowledge is power,” she says. “The more you know about migraine, the more you can work with your healthcare provider to manage treatment. If you realize more headache days means greater disability, you can be more diligent and do something for yourself.”

One way for people to arm themselves with information about migraine is to link up with support and advocacy groups such as Miles for Migraine. These AMF partners commit to helping people with migraine and advance information around headache medicine. Annual events such as Headache on the Hill are also opportunities for people to stand up for the migraine community as a whole.

People who are interested in learning more about migraine can also visit the AMF Resource Library. AMF prides itself as a trusted source for the latest doctor-verified information and data about migraine.