History of abuse related to the frequency and severity of migraine symptoms

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A history of abuse is associated with worse migraine symptoms, including headache frequency, photophobia, hyperacusis, and ictal and interictal allodyina. This is evident from study results presented during the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Virtual Meeting 2021, April 17-22, 2021.

Although previous studies suggested a link between abuse and migraines, limited data correlate abuse with individual migraine symptoms. The aim of the current study was to determine the association between a history of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and the severity of sensory hypersensitivity symptoms in migraineurs.

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The sample included 1020 adults with migraines from the American Migraine Research Register. All participants reported their own history of abuse and completed questionnaires to determine anxiety, depression, photosensitivity, hyperacusis and allodynia.

About a third (365 patients, 36%) of participants reported a history of abuse.

Statistical analyzes showed that abuse was associated with a higher incidence of headaches (P = 0.019); Ictal allodynia (P = 0.001); and anxiety, depression, photophobia, hyperacusis, and ictalallodynia (all P <0.001).

After adjusting for age, gender, and headache frequency, abuse was significantly associated with photophobia (B = 0.111; P <0.001), hyperacusis (B = 4.328; P <0.001), and ictalallodynia (B = 0.125; P <). 001) and interictal allodynia (B = 0.109; P = 0.002).

The association between abuse with photophobia, hyperacusis, and ictalallodynia was significantly mediated by anxiety and depression.

“Further investigation into the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between abuse, psychiatric comorbidities and migraine symptoms is needed and could lead to interventions that reduce the negative effects of abuse on the expression and severity of migraine symptoms,” the study’s researchers concluded .


Trivedi M., Dumkrieger G., Chong C., Dodick D., Schwedt T. Effects of abuse on migraine symptoms and comorbidity: results from the American Register for Migraine Research (ARMR). Presented at: American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Virtual Meeting 2021; April 17-22, 2021. Abstract S15.001.

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