If you suffer from migraines, new research could shed more light on the debilitating disease. Scientists say they have pinpointed an area of the brain that is thicker in people with migraines than in those who don't.
The results of the small study suggests people with migraines may be more naturally sensitive to stimulation like pain.
Migraines are a chronic and progressively painful disease affecting nearly 36 million Americans. Dr. Mark Green, the Columbia University Medical Center Director of Headache Medicine says, "Its very common, 18 percent of women, 6 percent of men have migraines. That's 12 percent of the population."
A new study published by the American Academy of Neurology shows repeated migraine attacks may contribute to or lead to structural changes in the brain. When researchers compared two dozen migraine patients to a dozen people who do not have migraines, they discovered differences in the somatosensory cortex. This is the area of the brain that helps process information like pain.
"People who suffer from migraine have an increased thickness of the part of the brain that processes the sensation of the face and the head area," says Dr. Nouchine Hadjikhani.
Whether that cortex thickness is caused by a migraine or just the effects of suffering from one is not known. However, doctors say the findings suggest migraine sufferers may need more aggressive medical treatment sooner.
Dr. Mark Green says, "The biggest concern with progressive brain changes without treatment, maybe and its too early say for sure, that it may lead to more headaches down the line"
Doctors say once diagnosed, patients can usually manage the pain, but not completely live headache free.
For more information on the study and migraines, click on the link below.