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Keywords:

  • chronic migraine;
  • migraine;
  • disability;
  • MIDAS;
  • Migraine Disability Assessment scale;
  • transformed migraine;
  • chronic daily headache

Background.—Chronic migraine is the most common type of chronic daily headache seen in headache tertiary care centers. Most patients with chronic migraine report their ability to function and feeling of well-being as severely impaired.

Objective.—To measure the headache-related disability of patients with chronic migraine using the Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) Questionnaire, comparing it with that obtained in a control group of patients with episodic migraine.

Methods.—The clinical records of 703 patients with chronic daily headache treated in a headache specialty clinic were reviewed to identify 182 with chronic migraine who were evaluated using the MIDAS at their initial visit. Our control group consisted of 86 patients with episodic migraine.

Results.—Of the 182 patients with chronic migraine, 127 (69.8%) were overusing acute-care medication. Patients were predominantly women (72.5%), with a mean age of 38.3 years. The group with episodic migraine consisted of 59 women (68.6%), with a mean age of 36.1 years. No statistically significant demographic differences were observed between the two groups. The group with chronic migraine had more total headache days over 3 months (66.7 versus 15.5, P<.001), missed more days of work or school (5.3 versus 2.3, P  =  .0007), had more reduced effectiveness days at work or school (11.9 versus 4.6, P  =  .0001), missed more days of housework (16.5 versus 3.3, P<.0001), and missed more days of family, social, or leisure activities (7.0 versus 5.5, P  =  .03). The group with chronic migraine was more likely to be in MIDAS grade IV (64.3% versus 43.2%, P  =  .001), reflecting the great likelihood of severe disability in this group. The average total MIDAS score was 34.9 in the group with chronic migraine versus 19.3 in the group with episodic migraine (P<.001).

Conclusion.—In subspecialty centers, patients with chronic migraine demonstrate remarkable impairment of their daily activities and are severely burdened by their headache syndrome, reflected by their high MIDAS scores. The chronicity and pervasiveness of migraine thus is associated with increased functional impairment as well as increase in headache frequency.