Migraine Comorbidities: Migraine & Lupus Research Revealed

Read Part 1 – Migraine Comorbidities: Lupus / SLE

Recent research was announced in the journal Headache this summer, that added credence to Migraine as a primary headache and not a neurologic symptom of the systemic autoimmune disease Lupus. It also gave us some interesting additional data to consider:

In the small one year study comparing Lupus patients, MS (Multiple Sclerosis — another autoimmune disease which is CNS specific) patients and controls, researchers found that Migraine was not seen more frequently in Lupus patients than in MS patients or controls as had previously been found. (Due to the small number of available SLE and MS patients, co-morbidities were not taken into consideration however.) The study did tell us that SLE patients suffered more chronic tension type headache unrelated to medication use.

It’s interesting to note that headaches (the study did not differentiate between headache and Migraine here) associated with disease modifying treatments (DMARDs) were noted in the headache diaries but not included in the research analysis. They were disregarded because this would make them side effects triggered by DMARDs and not a symptom from Lupus itself. These headaches would be reported to doctors in clinical practice however, and with insufficient history recording or headache journals, may not be differentiated re: their relationship to medications as they should, creating confusion. (For more information see: Medication Triggers in Autoimmune Migraineurs)

The intensity and duration of Migraine in SLE patients was rated lower than in MS patients or controls. Lupus is a very painful affliction however, and it was not mentioned whether this may have impacted the results listed ie… the possibility of increased pain thresholds etc which were not examined.

Anxiety was higher, and quality of life issues were markedly decreased in Lupus patients when compared to MS patients and controls. Depression was similar between SLE and MS patients when compared to controls however. In the control group, headache correlated with increased anxiety and depression, but not in the SLE group of headache patients. (In my personal experience, I would suggest this is a result of the continual level of pain Lupus patients experience in comparison to Migraine — Lupus is the great equalizer in my own life)

In the end, the researchers submitted that having Migraine should not be considered a symptom of SLE although tension headache might. The researchers felt that the burden of increased anxiety, depression and decreased quality of life associated with SLE may lead to chronification of Migraine in Lupus patients however.

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