Survey: Migraine Patients Dissatisfied With Treatment

Keywords: migraine, chronic migraine, episodic migraine, severe migraine, neurology, headache, pain medication, migraine medication, prescription pain pills, migraineurs, depression, and anxiety

The world of a migraineur is one where pain, sadly, is often a familiar companion.  In January of 2013, The Pain Medicine News reported on a fascinating study conducted regarding migraine pain and its treatment.  The article would go over a recent study conducted by through its consumers.  The article goes on to highlight how migraines, especially when not treated regularly or properly can have a negative effect on relationships, a profession and on their health.  Moreover, the area for the participants that seemed most severely affected by reoccurring and untreated migraines was their professional careers.  Dr. Stan Farrell, who’s office is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, focuses on the treatment of all types of headaches, especially migraines.  His treatments are conservative, non-invasive and are proven to alleviate pain without the use of narcotics. Dr. Farrell is Board Certified and a member of the American Headache Society and a Diplomate with the American Board of Orofacial Pain, making him one of the best choices for your migraine headache treatment.  If you suffer or know someone who suffers from migraines or headaches, schedule an appointment with Dr. Farrell at AZ TMJ today.

George Ochoa


Only 34% of migraine patients responding to a survey report satisfaction with their migraine treatment. This is one of the findings of Migraine in America 2012, a study published online on July 31 by The study suggests strong effects of migraine on what could be as many as 37 million Americans.

A health care site for consumers, is published by the advertiser-supported Health Union, LLC, which was not paid to conduct the study, according to Tim Armand, MBA, managing director, Health Union, LLC, Philadelphia.

Conducted between May 15 and June 15, 2012, the study recruited consumers from, search engines and social media sites, as well as other third parties. “It was a broad online population,” said Mr. Armand. To be included, respondents had to be over the age of 18 years, migraine sufferers and U.S. citizens living here or abroad. Responses were anonymous and participants were not paid or compensated in any way. The survey included 110 questions, although because of multiple branching, “virtually no one answered all 110 questions,” said Mr. Armand.

Of the 2,735 participants who met inclusion criteria and started the survey, 2,632 completed it (96.2%). Respondents were 92.8% female, and the majority were at least 40 years of age. A majority (75.9%) of the respondents had been living with migraine for 10 years or more. More than half (56.9%) experienced chronic migraine (15 or more headache days per month with symptoms lasting more than four hours) rather than episodic migraine (fewer than 15 days per month).

Mr. Armand noted a limitation: “The audience on tends to be more health-seeking and tends to have more severe migraine.”

“The survey is all self-selected by patients who go to these Internet sites,” said Stephen Silberstein, MD, professor of neurology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, and past president of the American Headache Society, who was not affiliated with the study. “For patients who are willing to go to a headache website, it describes their behavior, but is not characteristic of the general migraine population.” He added, “It’s valuable if you want the characteristics of that population. If you want to market to that population, it’s valuable.”

Dawn Marcus, MD, professor, University of Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the survey but is an occasional unpaid contributor to, observed: “Even though this was a select population, the demographics are similar to migraine clinical trials and most migraine studies.” She added that “probably the most salient point [of the study] is that there is a substantial number of people with very frequent migraine episodes, people often excluded from studies. This helps to highlight this important population.”

Ninety percent of respondents had tried prescription migraine pills, 79.9% over-the-counter pain medication, 79.4% over-the-counter migraine medication and 60.8% prescription pain pills. Side effects were common: 64.5% reported having avoided medications due to side effects, and 66.2% reported having stopped medications due to side effects. Cost was often an issue. Seventy-three percent reported withholding taking a migraine medication to spare or save it for later, and 45.5% reported avoiding a migraine medication because of cost.

“The medications out there have improved the lives of migraineurs, but not everyone benefits,” said Dr. Marcus. “If migraine sufferers need to regularly treat several migraines a week with medication like an analgesic or a triptan, this can change brain chemistry and make headaches become more frequent and less responsive to treatment. This is called ‘medication overuse headache.’ Consequently, people with very frequent migraines are more limited in finding therapies.”

Dr. Marcus added that “For very frequent episodes, preventive therapies are used, medications that are used to treat other conditions, such as high blood pressure, mood disorders and epilepsy. Because these pills target a lot of different areas of the body besides migraine, they can cause unwanted side effects.”

Migraines often have an effect on careers, relationships and overall health, the respondents reported. More than 50% stated that migraines have affected their careers. A little more than 10% reported migraine contributed to a divorce or separation. Comorbidities were common, with the most frequent being depression (63.8%) and anxiety (60.1%). Migraine patients felt misunderstood, with 74.1% reporting that others did not believe their migraines were severe.

Dr. Silberstein said of the study, “It doesn’t add to what we already know. … It adds a stigma to people with severe migraine. Many people with migraine are doing well, and this makes it look like they’re all doing poorly.” (Pain Medicine News: ISSUE: JANUARY 2013|VOLUME: 11)