Learning More About Migraine with the American Headache Society
Nancy and I recently attended the 53rd annual scientific meeting of the American Headache Society (AHS) to continue learning more about Migraine and other headache disorders. As always, we learned a great deal, and we're anxious to share it with you. Since so many people have asked about the conference, I'll give you a preview of some of the information that you'll see published here on MyMigraineConnection in the near future.
- The Role of the Thalamus in Migraine: Some of the most fascinating and promising information at these conferences is the information about the pathophysiology of Migraine. More needs to be understood about this in order for truly novel treatments to be developed. This session was quite complex, and I'm going to need to study the material closely to understand it better, but it's fascinating.
- Migraine and Genetics: This is an area of study that should eventually lead to easier diagnosis as well as better treatments. The first specific genetic link for Migraine was found for familial hemiplegic Migraine, and the search for other genes linked to Migraine has been ongoing. Genetic variants for more common forms of Migraine have now been found. This session was a great update on where the genetic research stands.
- Controversies in Headache Medicine: Detoxification for MOH is Not Necessary: Some of the most interesting sessions at ASH conferences are those on controversial topics. Whether people who are having medication overuse headaches (MOH) need to "detox" from the medications causing the MOH before preventive medications will work for them has been a controversial topic for quite some time. Some doctors say the answer is, "No," and there are some limited studies in which topiramate (Topamax) and Botox were shown to work for some participants, despite MOH.
- The Premonitory Phase of Migraine: You've probably read about this phase of a Migraine attack before. It's also called the prodrome (see Anatomy of a Migraine). The prodrome symptoms can start from two to 48 hours before the aura of a Migraine with aura or before the headache phase of a Migraine without aura. There are many varying symptoms including yawning, food cravings, mood changes, and more. The most interesting part of this session was the discussion of studies that showed that treating for a Migraine during the prodrome was effective in stopping the Migraine before it progressed for some study participants. I found this especially interesting since I'd always been told that treating during the prodrome would do no good and was a waste of medication.
- Mechanisms and Clinical Targets of Chronic Migraine: This was an extra session that provided some great information and insights about chronic Migraine - risk management, early diagnosis and recognition, and treatment.
That's just a sampling of the wide range of topics covered during the conference. There was also the opportunity to view some interesting research posters, ask questions, network, catch up with people we've met at previous conferences, and much more. I'll be writing more detailed articles about these topics and more in the weeks to come to help update us all on what's going on in "headache medicine."
The U.S. Capitol, taken from the topof the Newseum. If you look
closely over the left side of the Capitol, you can vaguely
see the Washington Monument.