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Possible connection between Migraine, joint hypermobility disorders

Researchers may have uncovered some new clues about the causes of Migraine by observing that patients with joint hypermobility disorders (extreme flexibility / double jointedness) are more likely to experience Migraine Disease. Female patients with a diagnosis of a joint hypermobility disorder were three times more likely to also live with Migraine Disease than the control group.

Joint hypermobility is an inherited condition. Patients with this type of disorder experience extreme flexibility in their joints and musculoskeletal symptoms such as pain, joint instability and myalgia (muscle pain), but do not have any kind of rheumatologic disorder (i.e. arthritis).

Somewhere between 10-15% of the population live with joint hypermobility disorders, and as many as 85-90% of those patients are female. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is one type of joint hypermobility disorder.

Doctors and researchers have observed that joint hypermobility disorders share a common disease process with conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders and Migraine. Researchers have observed the comorbid presence of Migraine and joint hypermobility in past studies. The author of this study, Dr. Vincent Martin, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, had observed that many of his joint hypermobility patients also suffered from Migraine; he personally lives with both conditions. He wanted to examine the possible correlation using the correct diagnostic criteria for both conditions.

Martin believes both joint hypermobility disorders and Migraine share roots of being related to collagen. Collagen is a protein that connects joints and tissues. His hypothesis is that if collagen is too elastic it leads to overly flexible joints and stretchy blood vessels. The notion that Migraine originates in the blood vessels is an older theory that has gone out of fashion in recent years with the awareness that it’s actually a neurological condition. But we do know that expanding and contracting blood vessels are part of the Migraine process. Perhaps elastic collagen makes those of us with Migraine more susceptible to this process.

There are some key strengths and limitations to this study. Its strengths include the fact that diagnosis of the joint hypermobility disorders was done by a geneticist with special expertise in diagnosing and treating joint hypermobility disorders. Further, this is the first study of the possible connection between these conditions that used the International Headache Society ICHD-2 diagnostic criteria for diagnosing patients with Migraine.

Key limitations include the fact this was a small study, which limits the accuracy of the observations. Another limitation is that participants were patients at a connective tissue clinic, which may have skewed the results toward a population more likely to have comorbid conditions than the population at large. The researchers were unable to gather data about comorbid conditions other than Migraine, which left them unable to control for any of the other conditions commonly observed in patients with joint hypermobility disorders (i.e. anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, IBS, TMJ). Larger studies that build on the use of proper diagnostic criteria for both conditions and that control for other possible comorbid conditions that might affect the correlation between joint hypermobility and Migraine will be necessary in the future.

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

Extreme flexibility comes with triple migraine risk Joint hypermobility syndrome: a common clinical disorder associated with migraine in women

Comments

  • Debbie
    7 years ago

    Fascinating, this describes my son almost to a T especially when adding family history. Myself joint instability,his own extreme flexibility since a young age. His headaches probably started age 5, but not certain as we did not realize what was going on. He also suffered with ear, nose, and throat problems. Anxiety yes.
    Until I read this post the closest description of his condition was named on Johns-Hopkins site called “Transformed Migraine” an outdated term but describes a continual-not even one day without headache which he has had for over a year and a half. Fair to say he suffers cronic fatigue with this as he is physically wiped out if he tries to doing anything physical on his “better days” We are desperately searching for help. thank you for this post. My son takes no “migraine meds” as he gets no relief and does not feel it advantages to take drugs that have no positive results anyway.

  • POTS Mama
    4 years ago

    thank you also for this post. Describes my 17 yr old daughter as well. Battling migraines for 7 yrs now and just got her POTS dx in June. Struggling with getting an EDS diagnosis.

  • Cindy Dalton
    7 years ago

    This is an eye-opener. Both of my parents were migraineurs, double-jointed and suffered from depression and anxiety. Two of my siblings are migraineurs. My sister and I, like our father before us, have sleep disorders but C-pap helps with that. I was diagnosed with Familial Hemiplegic Migraine 26 years ago, but the calcium channel blocker Lotrel keeps my blood pressure regulated and lessens the severity of attacks, although the frequency remains the same. Daily doses of magnesium have helped several family members. The only thing that helps when an attack comes on is to take Alka-Seltzer Gold tablets in water at the very onset and then sleep it off. My pharmacy has to special order this medication since it is not in great demand. It contains potassium that helps with the channelopathy.

  • taralane
    8 years ago

    How do you know if you have joint hypermobility syndrome? I went to one orthopedic surgeon a few years back who told me I was too flexible, and a dentist years ago who did tell me I had TMJ, and I had the widest mouth opening he had ever seen – he even measured it to be sure! Until I read this post, I never thought about it, but I have always been super flexible especially on my L side, which is where most of my migraines are, until recently when they have started to switch sides.

    Who diagnosis this syndrome? I would like to know more about it. Thank you.

  • Clare Davey
    8 years ago

    omg, my 6 year old boy given diagnosis of hypermobility today, after 2 years of apparently unlinked problems, migraine, ‘growing pains’ and ear aches. has had problems with fine motor skills too, I thought was dyspraxic but now found this page its like all the pieces falling into place. feel so relieved, obviously would rather nothing wrong wih him, but knowing all linked to 1 problem means can ‘manage’ it. thank

  • Kristin Wright
    7 years ago

    what do you know about the earache component? I have that as well and am bewildered…

  • Jennifer Stewart
    8 years ago

    I inherited migraines from my grandma, who also shares my hypermobility, anxiety problems, and depression. This makes so much sense. I’d tried to explain to my chiropractor that my almost-50-year old body’s joints ache to sit Indian style. He thought I was nuts, but now I see that it must be the collagen.

  • Nancy Meller
    8 years ago

    I also have both. I was just told by my foot doctor that I had ehlers-danlos syndrome, and when I exercise I usually end up with a migraine. I also suffer from depression.

  • Diana Lee
    8 years ago

    In our little corner of the web it sounds like many people fit this study’s findings! Very interesting.

  • Laurie Case Vincent
    8 years ago

    I too have hypermobile joints and used to get 25 to 31 migraines per month. I now take Lamactil, also known as Lamotrigine 25 mg. three tablets twice a day to prevent them. It works great and I only get about 6 to 8 migraines per year. I have two minor cardiac arrythmias, Tachycardia and PAC’s, so I can’t take any of the Migraine abort medicines. I take two Aleve plus two Tylenol 3 at the same time and it works great.

  • Sue Wieman
    8 years ago

    this is so interesting! I have some of the symptoms..not the double jointedness but my daughter does and she suffers from migraines. I am so glad I discovered this page!

  • Karen Mullins
    8 years ago

    Have both!

  • Ella Munster Rivera
    8 years ago

    Great info…..sounds just like me, never did sleep much and joints, well they all give me trouble. Both of my parents suffered from migraines and joint issues…..thanks for this article.

  • Kelli Vanlandeghem
    8 years ago

    I suffer from 2 types of Migraines… Basilar and complicated both at the same time, which gives me stroke sypmtoms before the horrible 4 day headache. I do suffer from IBS and anxiety and although I am not double jointed that I know of….. I have very sore joints and muscles. Is there a link? Idon’t know.. I do know that MSG and Red Wine trigger my migraines.

  • Vicky Bonneville
    8 years ago

    WOW

  • Cathy Ruggirello Robinson
    8 years ago

    Wow…I was always told I was double jointed is that what it means?

  • Karen Mullins
    8 years ago

    Yes

  • Christina Sexton
    8 years ago

    Wll this makes sense, Sounds so much like me….I am definetly a migrane patient, my foot surgeon and pt say that part of the problem with my foot/ankle is becaue it is so flexible, I have TMJ, IBS, anxiety and problems sleeping.

  • Chastity Poindexter
    8 years ago

    Hmm… I have severe migraines, depression and severe anxiety disorder. Oh and did I mention that I also have insomnia. Pretty sure not double jointed though. What kind of treatment plan do you follow? (If you don’t mind me asking) Always open to suggestions.

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