BY SARAH OWENS
People who experience migraines should seek help and advocate for their condition. That’s the message of a new campaign—Move Against Migraine—sponsored by the American Migraine Foundation that aims to increase awareness, advocacy, and funding for this debilitating, but often overlooked neurologic disease.
Although more than 36 million people in the United States get migraines, a disabling neurologic condition that may include symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, the condition is underappreciated, says David Dodick, MD, FRCP, FACP, FAHS, chair of the American Migraine Foundation (AMF), president of the International Headache Society, and professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Unlike other neurologic disorders such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, migraine’s symptoms aren’t always visible.
“There’s also a stigma attached to migraine that discredits people,” Dr. Dodick says. “Their friends and coworkers may consider the weak and unable to tolerate stresses in life. They might say they’re exaggerating the severity of a regular headache or even making it up at times.”
But migraine is not just a headache. “It’s a neurologic disease with potentially serious health consequences,” Dr. Dodick says. People with migraine experience excruciating head pain and are at an increased risk of stroke, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and chronic pain. That’s why treatment, advocacy, and more research are some important, says Dr. Dodick.
“Move Against Migraine” will run through at least the end of 2017 with a mission to:
- Raise public awareness. “The AMF hopes to change the conversation and public’s perception about what migraine is and isn’t,” says Dr. Dodick. It will do this by providing easily accessible information on its website.
- Promote patient networking and self-advocacy. “Many patients hide in the shadows,” says Dr. Dodick. “Only a third seek a health care provider’s opinion about what’s going on. We want to give them a platform and an opportunity to come together and mobilize.”
- Galvanize research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are the primary funders of migraine research in the US, yet they have a budget of just $15 to 20 million a year, far lower than funding for other diseases, and about a 10th or 20th of what’s really needed, Dr. Dodick says. As a result, fewer researchers study migraine, fewer treatments are developed, and far fewer patients receive innovative treatments.
As part of its campaign the AMF is revitalizing its website (americanmigrainefoundation.org/move-against-migraine) to include a “virtual library,” which will help people learn more about migraine; a link to a Facebook community where patients can connect and share their experiences and advice; and a tool to help patients find a headache specialist in their area. On the Facebook page, the campaign is hosting weekly “live” sessions with experts as well as one-on-one chats with migraine specialists. Patients may even get to chat with Dr. Dodick himself. To join, go to facebook.com/groups/MoveAgainstMigraine.
Treatments in the Pipeline
At their annual “Headache on the Hill” meeting with Congress and other meetings with politicians, representatives of the AMF will encourage lawmakers to increase funding to develop new treatments. Some of the new therapies on the horizon include abortive (stopping a headache in its tracks) and preventive treatments, says Dr. Dodick. He expects a class of drugs called anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies will be approved as early as next year. “I see a very bright future ahead. We are on the precipice of a new generation of treatments.”
Via: Neurology News
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.