Is Abdominal Pain a Feature of Adult Migraine?


Dr. E. A. MacGregor, The City of London Migraine Clinic, 22 Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6DX, England, UK.


Recurrent abdominal pain in children, frequently diagnosed as “abdominal migraine,” is thought to evolve into more typical migraine headache during the teens and twenties. If this transformation occurred, we would expect some adult migraineurs to retain abdominal pain; but we could not recall this symptom being mentioned by patients. However, without direct questioning the absence cannot be assumed. We, therefore, asked 100 migraineurs about abdominal symptoms during migraine attacks: only one experienced unexplained abdominal pain. We conclude that abdominal pain is not a feature in adult migraineurs, leading us to support the notions that: (1) recurrent abdominal pain of childhood has a number of causes; (2) abdominal migraine may be an incorrect attribution and is liable to be over diagnosed; (3) abdominal migraine requires more precise definition; (4) the transition from childhood abdominal migraine to adult migraine needs precise prospective study.