For Patients with Fibromyalgia, It May Not Be 'Just' a Headache

MAY 17, 2015
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
When lead investigator Brinder Vij, MD, started to notice a pattern of headaches among his patients with fibromyalgia (FM) nearly 3 years ago, he decided to investigate if this theme was more widespread.
A collaborative team from the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic recently examined the prevalence of migraines in patients with fibromyalgia. The study, presented at the 34th Annual American Pain Society Scientific Meeting in Palm Springs, CA, used patients from the Mayo Clinic Fibromyalgia Registry database.
“Think about how these things co-exist,” Vij, of the Cleveland Clinic, told MD Magazine. “Where there’s one there could be the other.”
A total of 1,730 patients with FM (92.5% females) completed an electronic survey between August and October of 2014. The ID-Migraine screener asked 3 yes or no questions relating to feelings of nausea, sensitivity to light, and effecting everyday life. If a patient answered ‘yes’ to any 2 out of the 3, there is a fair chance that the headaches are actually migraines – a debilitating condition.
The data revealed that 966, or 55.8%, of the participants met the criteria for migraines.
“A number of self-reported medical and psychiatric comorbidities were significantly more common in patients who met criteria for migraine than those who did not,” the authors wrote.
However, the order of these diseases does not always start with fibromyalgia. Some patients with FM suffered from migraines for years, Vij explained, before the onset of the disease. Migraines should be treated as a serious condition and screen patients before it is too late. “This is important for people to know,” Vij confirmed.
This research is relevant from a pharmaceutical standpoint as well. Vij used the example that some antidepressants also help aid migraines while others don’t. Therefore, screening patients for migraines can help physicians make better prescription decisions in order to treat patients who have a combination of issues.
“It’s important to sensitize physicians to this problem so they start screening sooner rather than later,” Vij urged.

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