Severe headaches or migraines affect about 14 percent of American adults every year (CDC) while from a quarter to a third of all Americans suffer from chronic, non-cancer pain from headache, arthritis, low back pain and fibromyalgia (Nelson R. Decade of pain control and research gets into gear in USA. Lancet 362(9390); 1129, 2003.). Other types of pain or related conditions include complex regional pain syndrome and opioid dependence.
Migraine sufferers describe an intense pulsing or throbbing pain in an area of their head that can last up to three days if untreated, as well as nausea and sensitivity to both light and sound. Migraines, which may have a genetic cause, can be triggered by a number of different factors, including stress, anxiety, hormonal changes, bright or flashing lights, lack of food or sleep, and dietary substances.
Migraine, severe headaches, and chronic pain have a number of treatment approaches in common, including pain drugs, acupuncture and brain stimulation, as well as treatments specific to each condition. For instance, prevention strategies for migraines may include relaxation or stress reduction techniques and exercise. Responsive prevention and treatment is important – migraine attacks get worse with each attack.
Chronic pain is a debilitating disorder that is caused by a multitude of diseases and living in chronic pain substantially reduces quality of life.
There are many treatments and prevention strategies for migraine, headache and chronic pain, but no cures.
What are the neurobiological mechanisms that create chronic pain states and how can they be reverse or prevented?
How can we restore people to functional life without using chronic opioid therapy?