Recently, researchers released the results of a study looking at the association between childhood abuse and migraine risk. Researchers were not able to show that abuse caused migraines–that was not their intent–but the strong association between the two factors, they say, should inform migraine treatment.

A Strong Association

Dawn Buse, one of the study authors, noted that “childhood maltreatment can have long-lasting effects like associated medical and psychological conditions including migraine in adulthood.” That’s just one step shy of attributing childhood abuse with causal status for adult migraines, and, it should be admitted, the association is strong enough that we are right to be suspicious.

Silhouette of a mother arguing with her daughter.The study looked at nearly 10,000 people with chronic headaches, more than 8300 with migraines and about 1400 with tension headaches. They looked at how many people in each group had experienced abuse before the age of 18 to attempt to determine whether abuse influenced the development of headaches. Types of childhood abuse considered were emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and sexual abuse. To ensure they were isolating the effect of abuse, they corrected for factors like age, sex, race, income, depression, and anxiety, all of which can influence headache risk.

Among individual types of abuse, the one most strongly connected with migraines was emotional abuse. People who experienced emotional abuse as a child were about a third more likely to have migraines than tension headaches. Sexual abuse and emotional neglect also had significant associations, but it was less pronounced.

However, people who had experienced two or more forms of abuse were the most likely to develop migraines. They were 50% more likely to develop migraines than people who had experienced only one form of abuse.

Treatment Concerns

“When managing patients with migraine,” Buse said, “neurologists should take childhood maltreatment into consideration.”

One particular concern can be prescription drug abuse. People who have been victims of childhood abuse are more likely to suffer drug addiction. That means that for these patients, considering and pursuing drug-free treatment options when appropriate can be of great value. TMJ treatment is an effective and drug-free approach that can help many migraine patients.

If you are a migraine sufferer or know someone who is and might benefit from drug-free migraine treatment in Denver, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.