Earlier this year, we noted that a Stanford doctor complained that “Headache care is 50 years behind things like diabetes and cancer.” In his mind, we just don’t understand the mechanisms of headaches well enough to provide the same level of treatment for them as we do for these other disorders.
But what he never really explained is why that should be the case. Now a new book by a Rutgers sociologist might just give us the answer.
In her book, Not Tonight, Joanna Kempner explores why migraines and other headaches have not been taken seriously by medicine. She starts by wondering why, despite that fact that migraines regularly disrupt so many lives–and cost employers $13 billion each year due to lost work–they aren’t taken seriously by doctors, researchers, and policymakers. She then answers that for the past 150 years migraines have been viewed through a lens that prevents them from being seen as parallel to other health disorders. They have been considered a personality disorder, and to this day many people with migraines are described as being oversensitive and excitable.
She also notes that the disorder has probably not been funded adequately in part because it is primarily associated with women, and that, until recently, women’s health issues were notoriously underfunded.
Inventing a New Image and Language for Migraines
Kempner claims that in order to change attitudes about migraines, they need to be associated with a completely different image. While people typically associate migraines with a white, middle-class woman, people need to be shown masculine migraine sufferers, such as football players and soldiers, who are equally disabled by the condition.
She also notes that language currently used to describe the debilitating pain is inadequate and often implies that migraine sufferers are weak. By changing this language, the migraine might finally receive the attention it needs, and progress can finally be made in finding more effective treatments.
At the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado, we take migraines very seriously, and we will help you find the cause of your migraines, and a solution–if possible. Please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver TMJ dentist.