Migraines Worse than Childbirth? New Study Reveals Impact of Migraine
A new study commissioned by Eli Lilly, a migraine pharmaceutical company, surveyed 1,000 adults, including 518 migraine sufferers and 200 people with migraine sufferers in their families. They asked respondents to divulge how migraines impact life.
The general population, and many migraine sufferers too, will be shocked by the results. Most migraine sufferers will say, “yeah, duh,” while other migraine sufferers will discover that they are not alone in the devastation that migraines bring.
Passing this information along to the general public and medical professionals will help to get past the stigma that migraines are “just headaches.”
Let’s first discuss the pain of a migraine, which is only a small portion of this survey.
The chart above shows the average pain score (on a scale of 1-10) that migraine sufferers gave for a typical migraine, the worst migraine pain they’ve experienced, and other conditions.
A typical migraine was rated a 7.1 and childbirth was just a notch above at 7.3. However, the worst migraine pain experienced was rated 8.6, which falls just short of the most painful thing that person ever experienced at 8.7.
Whether you’re a migraine sufferer or not, you may think: “is this true?” or “it’s not true for me.” It is subjectively true. The 10-point pain scale bases “no pain” at zero and unimaginable pain at 10 or pain so severe that you would go unconscious shortly.
I used this scale everyday treating medical emergencies, and I can tell you that the 10-point scale is entirely subjective to the individual and the level of pain that they’ve endured in their lifetime.
People with chronic pain will often give lower pain scores than the average person because they adapt to consistent pain. A migraine sufferer may rate all types of pain as less than if a non-migraine sufferer experienced those same types of pain. The actual measurable symptoms of childbirth or migraine can also vary drastically from person to person.
The debate of which is a worse experience is nothing new, especially in online migraine support groups, with some migraine sufferers who say that they would rather give birth every day than have migraines and others who say that childbirth is much worse.
This new survey confirms that the average migraine sufferer feels that a bad migraine is much worse than childbirth.
Additional, and Fascinating, Survey Results:
Top Ten Disability
The Eli Lilly survey finds that non-migraine sufferers are less likely to know that migraine is one of the top ten disabilities. Migraines are the top neurological disability by a wide margin and the sixth most disabling illness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
People Don’t Understand
91% of migraine sufferers say that people don’t understand the severity of the disease.
75% of sufferers say it’s difficult to explain the impact of migraine to others.
The lack of migraine awareness in the general population causes additional stress, which pressures migraine sufferers into hiding their condition from others. 62% agreed that they try to hide the real impact of their migraines from people at work or school.
Above is the average migraine calendar and it’s rough.
6.9 migraine headache days per month.
15.4 completely pain-free days.
The remaining 7.7 days per month could be mild headaches days or fatigue, which is commonly experienced after a migraine. So the next time Sally from HR maliciously asks you, “another migraine?”, you can say, “here is the average migraine sufferer’s calendar and half the month is unkind to us.”
The following may be the saddest statistic. Migraine sufferers miss an average of 7.4 important events per year, such as weddings, vacation, major work events, kids’ events, etc. You know, the most important times in your life with the most important people to you.
The average American gets two weeks off per year and that single vacation may be one of those important events—a much-needed event—that a migraine sufferer misses each year. 70% of migraine sufferers say that they avoid making plans altogether.
79% of migraine sufferers agree that migraines impact their ability to take care of their family.
55% say migraines have impacted career goals, with some losing promotions or resorting to less stressful jobs.
The information from this article comes from the 2018 Migraine Impact Report.