Dr. Jessica Ailani explains how a new scientific study on a database of headache disorders can be interpreted and used by patients with migraine

A new database that collects information on people living with migraine and other headache disorders could change how these conditions are treated, according to one author of a new research paper.

Dr. Jessica Ailani of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital worked on an article that was recently published in Headache®: The Journal of Head and Face Pain that studied the American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR). ARMR collects information from patients and gives researchers a wider view of how migraine and other headache disorders affect people across the U.S.

“The purpose of this paper was really to allow the scientific community to have a good understanding of why we created a registry, but also what was entailed in the registry,” Dr. Ailani says. “It’s setting up some baseline characteristics. So, that was the purpose—to tell you how we did this study and what the population demographics look like.”

Dr. Ailani recently spoke with the American Migraine Foundation about how patients can use ARMR as an active tool in their treatment.

How Patients Can Use ARMR

Despite the article’s scientific nature, Dr. Ailani says that there is a lot of takeaway for patients with migraine. For one, the study found that many other conditions—allergies, hay fever, back pain, depression, anxiety—go hand-in-hand with migraine. Dr. Ailani says that patients can take this study to their doctors to help guide their treatment plans.

“I think if you come armed with this kind of information, you can really make a case to have your primary care doctor pay a little bit more attention to your migraine,” she says. “Your doctor can at least try to help you start management while you might be waiting to see a specialist.”

Dr. Ailani also says that this paper shows just how common migraine is, which should empower patients to seek the treatment they deserve. Not only can this research help people with migraine to obtain relief, but they can also use it to find comfort.

“I think if a patient takes a look at this paper, they should realize that since they’re not alone, they shouldn’t be fearful about talking to their healthcare provider about their disease,” she says. “A lot of times, we hear from patients that they felt uncomfortable talking to their primary care provider or their general neurologist because they were told there’s not much else to do.”

Understanding How Common Migraine Is

Dr. Ailani says it’s important to realize that chronic migraine is a common condition, but points out that it’s not spoken about very often. This study, she says, shows that in a headache clinic population, chronic migraine makes up the majority of cases seen by doctors.

“A lot of times in the clinic, we talk to our patients with chronic migraine and they feel like they’re the only ones who have headaches like this,” Dr. Ailani says. “So these patients are not alone, that they’re really in this community of patients that are kind of going through a similar experience. So I think that’s something for them to take away from the study.”

The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.