Migraines May Up Risk of Painful Skin
Study Shows Migraine Sufferers More Likely to Have Severe Skin Sensitivity
April 22, 2008 -- A new study shows migraine sufferers are more likely to
have a type of pain condition called "allodynia" -- pain from
something that normally should not evoke pain, such as rubbing the head,
combing hair, or wearing necklaces and earrings.
The study looked at questionnaire answers from 16,573 people who have headaches; 11,737 of them have migraines, 1,491 have
probable migraines, and 3,345 have other types of headaches.
Researchers explored what types of headaches these people have and how often
they get them, among other things.
When it came to allodynia, here's what the researchers found:
- 68% of respondents who had migraines every day reported allodynia.
- 37% of those who had chronic daily headaches said they experienced
- In people with migraines, allodynia was more common in women and people who
- Depressed people reported more extreme skin sensitivity and pain.
- Extreme skin sensitivity and pain decreased with age.
Skin Pain and Headaches
Exactly what causes brain pain and extreme skin sensitivity? Researchers
speculate that the constant activation of certain neurons in the brain may
eventually damage those neurons, which could play a part.
Researcher Marcelo E. Bigal MD, PhD, from Albert Einstein College of
Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., says allodynia may be a "risk factor for migraine
progression, where individuals have migraines on more days than not."
This type of pain and sensitivity seems to decrease as we age. Why?
According to researchers, one reason may be that "the activation of pain
pathways in the brain decline as attacks become less frequent and
Study researchers say identifying risk factors for how migraines progress
can lead to better treatment.
Researchers believe that there may be a link between female hormones and
skin pain associated with headaches.
The study shows that the pain areas in the brain changed as women went
through their menstrual cycle, with the most pain being reported
The study was sponsored by the National Headache Foundation and appears in
the April 22 edition of Neurology.