Migraine Term of the Day - Polymorphism

Patient Expert
Medically Reviewed

migraine glossaryWriter's note: Some of you have expressed an interest in learning more of the medical terminology that comes up when discussing migraine disease and other headache disorders. So, I'll be posting a "term of the day," on a regular basis. If there are terms you'd like to have defined, please leave a comment below.

When we're given migraine and headache information, whether from our doctor, a book, or an online article, we sometimes come across medical terms that can be confusing. While it's easy enough to substitute another word or a short phrase for the medical term, there are times when substituting doesn't quite convey the same meaning.

Polymorphism is one of those terms. It's sometimes used when talking about migraine genetics and pathophysiology and is an important word for migraineurs to understand.


Polymorphism can have two meanings. It can mean the existence of a gene in several allelic (alternative forms of a gene that may occur at a specific locus) forms or a variation in a specific sequence of DNA.

Here's an example of how it's used in a sentence:A study has shown that the MTHFR polymorphism doesn't increase susceptibility to migraine.


As more and more research is conducted related to the genetics of migraine, various polymorphisms are going to come under scrutiny. Early work that suggested some polymorphisms that are related to migraine need to be replicated, and many studies are going to be necessary to identify all of the genes involved.

For more terms, see our Migraine Medical Terms Glossary Index.


Webster's Medical Dictionary