According to some studies, as many as 75% of treatment-seeking fibromyalgia patients also experience migraine or tension headaches. While there is no definitive correlation between the two conditions, migraine and fibromyalgia share several triggers and symptoms.  These include numbness in extremities, average onset in adulthood, and co-morbidity with depression.  Sensitivity to light, sound and touch as well as a higher incidence in women are also common symptoms for both conditions.

Dawn Marcus, MD at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center published a study in Clinical Rheumatology in 2005.  Only 24% of the fibromyalgia  patients evaluated said they did not have troublesome headaches.  Of 70 migraineurs tested, about 40% reported a significant number of physical tender points consistent with symptoms of fibromyalgia.  Fibromyalgia patients “tend to have this nervous system that is more sensitive to pain stimuli, says Dr. Marcus.  Like migraineurs, “they tend to identify pain earlier and perceive things as painful quicker.”

While these findings may link the two conditions, the connection is not crystal clear.  Brian Walitt, MD at Georgetown University Medical Center says many of his fibromyalgia patients have symptoms consistent with migraines, such as light sensitivity, but the pain “doesn’t have the same migrainous course.”  Experiencing a trigger that might start a migraine does not necessarily follow a similar pattern in those with fibromyalgia.  “Its a tough issue.”        Headwise  Volume 2, Issue 1

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