Migraine impacts one in six adults worldwide,1 making it the second leading cause of years lived with disability globally.2 Unfortunately, migraine often goes undiagnosed, forcing adults with the condition to push through severe throbbing and reoccurring pain, as well as secondary symptoms including auras; nausea; vomiting; dizziness; extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch, and smell; and tingling or numbness in the face.
Primary care clinicians are the predominant source of care for patients with migraine.3 One key question to ask your patients during their office visit is how many days a month headache impacts their daily activities. Nearly 50% of people with migraine say they hesitate to seek care,4 so it’s crucial to start these conversations as early as possible. A recent study found many reasons impacted a patient’s decision to not seek treatment for their symptoms, including concerns their doctor would not take their migraine seriously, desire to manage their condition on their own, and believing their attacks weren’t serious enough.4
Your migraine patients may not be sharing their full experience or the full impact of the condition, which may include reduced energy and tiredness, difficulties concentrating and performing at work, and interference with relationships.5,6 For example, people living with migraine worry about their condition daily and often struggle to commit to social plans for fear of cancellation due to headaches.5
It’s crucial to understand the severity and impact of migraine in order to provide a proper preventive and/or acute treatment plan for your patients. Health care professionals who ask their patients more open-ended questions can avoid misalignment regarding frequency and impairment of migraine.7 A simple algorithm can help guide these conversations about the impact of migraine:
THINK: Ask patients whether their headaches have limited their activities and if they experience any additional symptoms like nausea and/or sensitivity to light. If your patient’s answer is “yes” to at least two of these additional signs and symptoms, it is highly likely they have migraine.8
TALK: Understand the frequency and impact of migraine during and between attacks on daily activities to help inform treatment decisions..
TREAT: Following a diagnosis of migraine, it’s important to treat it early and effectively for best results.8-10
Initiating a broader conversation about the impact of migraine, both during and between attacks, can provide essential information to help determine the best treatment plan. Even small changes like asking open-ended questions are shown to create more effective and shorter appointments.11 When you make these small changes, the full impact of migraine can become much clearer.
For more information and resources to support meaningful migraine conversations, please visit thinkmigraine.com/hcp.
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