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What else ya got? On having migraine AND other health conditions

What else ya got? On having migraine AND other health conditions

Until I reached puberty, I was a very healthy kid.  I didn’t eat fantastically well or anything, but I was thin and exercised a lot (usually just through playing and by swimming competitively), and I spent a lot of time outdoors exploring and indoors reading.  I’m sure my mom and dad might remember differently, but I don’t recall having any significant health problems growing up apart from recurring psoriasis and the occasional childhood virus.

Now, at thirty-five, I alternate between feeling as if I am a relatively healthy person and feeling as if I have been dealt a crappy hand.  Though viruses take their toll every once in awhile, my main health issues related to my chronic illnesses: migraine and psoriatic arthritis.  If I’m particularly fatigued one day, it’s not technically possible to know for sure if it’s related to typical tiredness due to a busy week or if it’s part and parcel of my arthritis or a sign that a migraine is on its way (or has just left the building).  Is my lower back hurting because I somehow bent down to pick something up in a less-than-optimal way, or is it because pain on the lower spine can be a trademark sign of psoriatic arthritis?

If you’re reading any article on this site about migraine, chances are you have it, or one of your loved ones does.  I won’t go into more detail about living with migraine right now.  I can tell you a little about psoriatic arthritis, which is the illness that waxes and wanes and, unfortunately, is waxing right now (neck pain, low back pain, joint aches, fatigue).  I’ve talked to many migraineurs who have join pain, mobility problems, and/or even a formal diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis (which is very similar).  In addition to joint pain and tightness, my typical arthritis flares come along with chest/rib pain when I breathe in deeply or lie on my left side—this is due to inflammation in the muscles there, and it’s a figurative pain as well as a literal one.

When I am in an arthritis flare, I know I am lucky compared to many others who have the same diagnosis—my flares, thus far, have been relatively mild and I can live my life during them.  Many people I’ve talked to are bedridden during arthritis flares, and I send my admiration and sympathy to them.  Unfortunately, an arthritis flare that involves neck and back pain and fatigue can almost always help trigger migraines, making me kind of a mess. Those of you who have read my articles on this site for years know that, for me, migraines wax and wane as well.  Some episodes are mild, and others knock me flat for a week at a time, unable to function at all.  And sometimes I go several days in a row without an attack!

In talking with many migraine patients, I have come to realize that nearly all of us—at least the talkative ones I happen to encounter—are dealing with more diagnoses than just migraine.

So tell me: what other illnesses or health struggles do you face? In your experience, how do your conditions affect one another? How is your life impacted by these other diagnoses as compared with how it’s affected by migraine, and how do the illnesses affect your day-to-day life? 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Alicia
    4 years ago

    I have:

    Chronic migraine
    Allergies to all trees, grasses and weeds, plus cats, dogs, and dust
    Connective tissue disorder (might eventually be lupus, might be fibro, might be arthritis, might be something totally different)

    Also Graves, though that’s in remission.

    In any case, as far as attempting to keep a job, if one condition isn’t acting up, it’s another. Even if I could control the migraines, something else would probably take its place.

  • Shellye
    4 years ago

    I have hyperthyroidism, OCD, GAD, social anxiety, and Panic Disorder. I was told I had fibromyalgia, but I’ve never been formally diagnosed.

    Unfortunately, because of having hyperthyroidism, no one will take my hemiplegic migraines seriously. I have had migraines LONG BEFORE (around fifteen years before) I ever had a thyroid problem. Many doctors have said if I treat the thyroid disease that My migraines will stop. I’m hyperchemically sensitive to 95% of prescription medications. I’m allergic to iodine (and you have to drink radioactive iodine as treatment for hyperthyroidism) I’ve had severe reactions to prescription medications that were supposed to help me. Despite my history, doctors have tried to prescribe those same meds that have nearly killed me. I’ve given up on finding a competent doctor who won’t write me off as uncooperative or crazy. I deal with everything on my own, and while it’s difficult, at least I’m surviving. So yeah. I’m bloody well in my own. I try not to get discouraged about it because it honestly could be worse.

  • Jani8
    4 years ago

    In addition to Chronic Migraine Disease I have:

    Myasthenia Gravis, a rare autoimmune disaease
    Severely limited lung capacity (No, I never smoked) On Oxygen 24/7
    I went into surgical menopause when I was 30.
    Type 2 Diabetes
    Spondyolo Lysthesis
    A bleeding disorder
    Frequent bouts of insomnia
    Prolapsed bladder
    Depression and anxiety

    I’ve probably forgotten something. I’m in a Fibro fog!

  • grammayumyum
    4 years ago

    In addition to chronic migraine disease and atypical migraines (all with aura), I have been diagnosed with:
    * Chronic fatigue syndrome
    * Fibromyalgia,
    * Celiac disease
    * Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome
    * Multiple allergies to foods, medications, environmental triggers
    * Hypotension (LOW blood pressure)
    * Raynaud’s phenomenon
    * Sjogren’s syndrome
    * Osteoarthritis
    * Rosacea
    * Supraventricular Tachycardia
    * Neurocardiogenic syncope
    * Sinus Tachycardia
    * Leaky gut syndrome
    * Fibrous dysplacia tumor of the sphenoid bone (behind eyes/in front of brain)
    * Premature menopause (age 34)
    * History of ovarian cysts, miscarriage
    * Trigeminal neuralgia
    * Probable recurring Guillane-Barre’ syndrome
    * Hypothyroidism
    * Scoliosis
    * Distal neuropathy of the hands and feet
    My cardiologist has referred me for evaluation of possible narcolepsy, recently discovered to be another autoimmune disease. I sure hope I can avoid adding another diagnosis to the list!

  • Sara
    4 years ago

    Hello there, I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome in addition to chronic basilar type migraine. I may also have Celiac Disease (am in the process of diagnosis). I’m going to have to wait until summer to find out about the celiac because I’m not willing to go back on gluten for diagnostic purposes until the school year is over. I work in the schools, and When I was last on gluten I was so sick that I had to take leave. I need to work as much as I am able this school year.

  • SleepyBri
    4 years ago

    Hi Janet,

    I have episodic migraine, narcolepsy with cataplexy, periodic nail shedding, inappropriate sinus tachycardia, seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, cholinergic urticaria, a large handful of environmental allergies, and an allergy to corn protein. Basically most of them can,or have directly/indirectly caused migraines (the hives haven’t so thats nice.) I’ve been dealing with the Narcolepsy since I was 15, and every other condition has popped up since then over the last 8 years. For the most part, until 2012 the Narcolepsy and Cataplexy were my biggest challenge. Then in 2012, my migraines and heart condition developed. I’m still in the process of working with my neurologist to develop the best treatment plan, but that means fine tuning can’t happen until a migraine does. So really I’d be good if we never had to “fine tune” again ;D

  • Luna
    4 years ago

    I have cervial spondylosis, bony spurring, degenerative disc disease; thoracic dextroconvex scoliotic curvature; osteoartritis the whole spine and hips. Most of this didn’t really bother me that much until a few months ago. I don’t sleep well and have almost constant symptoms of migraine to some degree. A lot of migraine without any or much headache.
    Am having trouble lately with neck pain waking me at 4 am with head pain starting. Ugh. Don’t sleep well after that.

    Thank you for this comment “my typical arthritis flares come along with chest/rib pain when I breathe in deeply or lie on my left side—this is due to inflammation in the muscles there,”… That helps me understand a part of my situation.
    You said “wax and wane”. I’ve always called it coming in waves. Thanks for all your posts.

  • Bobbie
    4 years ago

    Hi Janet. I have Addison’s, Sjogren’s, Graves, Arthritis, Restless Leg and other related items. When a migraine hits,
    it and makes me sick, my Addison’s can get stirred up and
    that is a problem. I have to then take more prednisone on top
    of the migraine meds, more salt, gatoraid and some zofran and hope I won’t be taking a trip to the hospital. I have been getting my migraines weekly now. Three days at a time. Going for a consult for Botox treatment next week though. I was scared to to Botox but I have tried so much, I give up 🙁 Thanks for listening Janet. Have a good day. Bobbie

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