Why is Pain in the Face and Head Worse than the Rest of the Body?

Researchers have found why pain from the head and face can be more disruptive, and emotionally draining than pain in other parts of the body. The researchers found that sensory neurons from the head and face are wired directly into the brain’s principal emotional signaling hubs, while sensory neurons from elsewhere in the body are connected only indirectly to this hub. People consistently rate pain of the head and face as more disruptive and emotionally draining than pain in other parts of the body. The results may help lead toward more effective treatments for pain mediated by the craniofacial nerve, including chronic headaches and neuropathic face pain. Usually doctors focus on treating the sensation of pain, but this work demonstrates that doctors need to also treat the emotional aspects of pain. Pain signals from the head and face compared to those … Read more

The Social Stigma of Migraine Headaches

An interesting study has been conducted by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University looking at the social stigma of migraine headaches. The study appears in PLOS ONE, January 16, 2013. The study was led by William B. Young a neurologist and he is quoted at saying “When people treat my patients as if they are to blame because they have a severe, debilitating disease, they are contributing to the problem and making life harder for them.” The researchers find that high levels of social stigma for migraine suffers is due to the impact of a chronic migraine of their work lives. Dr. Young says “I don’t think people realize that it is not unusual for people with migraine to have severe headaches every day—to be so disabled that they are unable to work. This is what causes the stigma—the fact that … Read more

Electric Stimulation of Brain Releases Powerful Painkiller

Researchers have been exploring delivering electricity through sensors on the skulls of chronic migraine patients and have found a decrease in the intensity of pain of their headaches. A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry has shown that when electricity is sent to certain regions in the brain of a patient with chronic, severe facial pain it releases an opiate-like substance and powerful painkiller. In the study, researchers administered a radiotracer that reached important brain areas in a patient with trigeminal neuropathic pain. They then applied electrodes and electrically stimulated the skull right above the motor cortex  for 20 minutes during a PET scan which is known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The radiotracer was designed to measure the local brain release of mu-opioid, a natural substance that alters pain perception. The researchers argue that this is the … Read more

Melatonin may be more effective than Amitriptyline for Migraine Prevention

Melatonin is an over the counter supplement and it has shown to be more effective than placebo for migraine prevention. In addition, it has a more favorable adverse effect profile than the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline. A study from a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that 3 mg of melatonin was more effective than placebo and had similar efficacy as 25 mg of amitriptyline. In addition, melatonin is better tolerated then amitriptyline without as much daytime sleepiness and no side effects of weight gain. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate the sleep and wake cycle. It is often used to aid with sleep and help with jet lag. I have used melatonin (3mg or more most nights) to aid with falling asleep when it was suggested by a physician due to trouble falling asleep ever since having a … Read more

Migraine in Children Can Lead to Reduced Performance in School

In an article titled “Migraine and migraine subtypes in preadolescent children Association with school performance,” appearing in Neurology in 2012 by Marco A. Arruda and Marcelo E. Bigal, a discussion is made that children with migraine may have below average school performance than kids who do not have headaches. The study looked at 5,671 children ages 5 to 12 from Brazil and found that those with migraine were 30% more likely to have below average school performance than those children with no headaches. The researchers collected information from the student’s teachers on their performance and also completed a questionnaire screening for emotional and behavioral problems. Further, the researchers interviewed parents of the students from medical history and other potential useful information. Of the 5,671 children around 0.6% had chronic migraine occurring 15 or more days per month and 9% had … Read more