Monday, 22 July, 2024

Are Migraines a Signal of Multiple Sclerosis?

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In a recent article published by MedPageToday, the question regarding a connection linking migraines and onset of multiple sclerosis was raised.  This is a recurring topic of interest for me, as I have been dealing with regular migraines since I was 13, and began having symptoms of Multiple sclerosis beginning at around age 16.  


Multiple sclerosis (MS) and migraines are both neurological conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord. They may have a connection, although scientists aren’t sure yet how. Both conditions can affect women more than men. Migraine can be triggered by physical factors, such as alcohol or caffeine, or by medication side effects. MS is a disease of the central nervous system that attacks the myelin, or protective tissue, covering nerves, causing inflammation. Symptoms vary for each person, depending on where the area of the brain is affected.

Researchers have found that multiple sclerosis patients have higher rates of migraine. This may have something to do with the inflammatory activity that occurs in MS, which is believed to be an autoimmune disorder.. There are several different types of MS, including primary progressive MS. Primary progressive MS is characterized by symptoms that steadily worsen over time. Some of these include loss of vision in one eye, double vision, and blurred vision. In addition, some people with MS have optic neuritis, a swollen optic nerve, which can cause intense pain.

Previously, researchers believed that MS and migraine had no common pathophysiology. However, researchers have found that migraine can be a precursor to MS. For example, a woman with MS experienced a migraine-type headache before her MS was diagnosed. She experienced severe, throbbing, parietal-temporal headaches for more than 15 days a month, along with visual disturbances, nausea, and vomiting. During her first MS episode, her vision was blurred over both eyes.

Among people with MS, the rate of migraine is about 2 to 3 times that of the general population. A small study in 2017 showed that people with MS had higher rates of migraine than previously reported. One study described a 33-year-old woman who had a migraine with worsening symptoms for more than two months, but she did not have an aura. It was discovered that she had a poor response to sumatriptan and naproxen therapy.

Another study looked at a group of MS patients, which includes those who have been referred to an MS center. Researchers found that about 40 percent of these patients had three to five migraine patients in the past year. Interestingly, these patients also had more frequent migraines than the general population.

The research suggested that women with migraines have a small but significant increase in their risk for developing MS. While there is no direct link between the two, doctors will often consider atypical symptoms of both diseases to make a diagnosis. Fortunately, both illnesses share some common treatment options, including various medications, and occipital nerve blocks.

Although both migraine and MS can look similar from a distance, it is important to keep in mind that both diseases affect different parts of the brain. Therefore, some headaches associated with MS are likely the result of tension pain. Other types of migraine may be more prevalent in patients with other disorders, and may not show up as frequently in patients with MS.

In navigating my own four decades of migraine activity, paying attention to what I eat and drink,  eliminating as much refined sugar, wheat, dairy, caffeine and alcohol as possible has helped in the number and severity of my migraine occurrences.

Additionally, adding in pure essential oils such as lavender for calming and ginger for nausea among others have been great additions as well.  Life is about constantly learning and as Henry Ford said, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”


Wendy Bjork, founder of is a pioneer in advocacy and mentorship.  Wendy is leading a global revolution of women walking in purpose and peace as she illumines their path ahead with the light of HOPE:  Harmony, Options, Peace & Empowerment.

She empowers women to step into their boldness, stand in their resilience and own their Truth.  Through Wendy’s guidance, they are finally seen, heard and understood.

Wendy has authored two books and co-authored a third, “Fired Up!,” a #1 International bestseller. She is a regular contributor on the digital platforms and to the National MS Society’s Momentum Magazine.  She is regularly invited on discussions, podcasts, interviews as she shares her story and hope to inspire others.

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