Fibromyalgia, Arthritis Prevalent in Migraine Sufferers Who Were Emotionally Abused as Children

New Study Links Other Pain Conditions to Childhood Maltreatment and Adult Migraines

Migraine patients who were maltreated as children had a higher risk factor for developing additional pain conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome than adult migraine sufferers who were not victims of child abuse, according to a new study in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.

In this study, researchers recruited patients with physician-diagnosed migraines from 11 outpatient headache centers in the United States.

More specifically, approximately 1,348 migraine sufferers completed surveys that examined the relationship of childhood abuse on pain conditions that occurred additionally to these headaches, with comorbid pain conditions including fibromyalgia, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

According to the study’s findings, 61% of the migraine patients had one of these pain conditions, 18% had two conditions and 13% had three or more of these conditions.

Furthermore, approximately 58% of the total patients reported that they were maltreated as children, with physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect among the child maltreatment criteria.

Researchers learned that migraine sufferers who were physically abused as children had higher incidences of arthritis; those who were emotionally abused had greater occurrences of fibromyalgia, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome; and those who were physically neglected had greater rates of irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and interstitial cystitis.

Based on these findings, the researchers noted how treating migraines, at least for patients who were maltreated as kids and may be at an additional risk for certain pain conditions, may be improved by incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy that accounts for how patients feel, behave and think.

On a related note, migraine headaches are sometimes symptoms of fibromyalgia, a myofascial pain syndrome that is typically characterized by general back pain and muscle pain, feelings of fatigue, and specific tender areas.

Fibromyalgia patients with migraine headaches may consider non-narcotic pain medications like acetaminophen (like Tylenol) as an initial treatment or visit their primary care physician about stronger medications if the migraines persist.

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