Chronic Migraine, Community, Patient Education, Society

Welcome to Migraine & Headache Awareness Month!

The awesome advocates of the American Headache and Migraine Association have put together an impressive array of events and information for the June 2013 Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, all centered around the theme of Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders.

The second annual Migraine & Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is underway with 30 days of movie-inspired prompts. Write for your existing blog or start a new one just for the month. If you don’t have a blog, you can respond to the prompts and post your insights on social media or write in a journal to share with those close to you. Even if you don’t show your writing to anyone else, writing down your thoughts about migraine or headache will raise your own awareness about its impact on your life. If you don’t start with yourself and your own beliefs, how can you influence anyone else?

Check the Fighting Headache Disorders blog daily for links to tons of blog posts. And be sure to read what the patient advocates at have to say in response to prompts (I’ll be writing four of them). Find bloggers’ favorite posts from the challenge in this month’s Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival.

Not a writer? You can participate in a Twitter challenge or daily photo challenge. Use social media to share facts about migraine and headache disorders (already compiled!) or post photos that document your life with migraine or headache. Be sure to tag your posts with one of the following hashtags so others can find what you share: #MHAM, #MHAM13, #MHAMBC (blog challenge), #MHAMTC (Twitter challenge), #MHAMPC (photo challenge)

Not a writer or social media user? Print out these migraine and headache disorder facts to hang in your office, community bulletin boards, or neighborhood telephone poles.

Phew, that’s a lot! I’m so appreciative of all these opportunities and can’t wait to see all the contributions.

Even if you don’t participate in any of these organized activities, I urge you to do at least one thing this month to increase someone else’s understanding of migraine or headache disorders. Maybe that’s describing to a non-migraineur how crippling a migraine attack is or telling someone who thinks migraine is “just a headache” about the numerous and varied symptoms a migraine can include. Perhaps you let someone who has mild, episodic migraine attacks that are treated with OTC meds know that may people get no relief from drugs, OTC or prescription, and others are disabled by daily migraine attacks.

Or you could do something even more difficult for most migraineurs — don’t diminish how severe your attacks are or pretend you feel better than you do. Oftentimes we choose to put on the masks that hide the severity of migraine. That may get us through our day-to-day tasks, but it also prevents others from having any real grasp on what life with migraine is truly like.

Chronic Migraine, Community, Patient Education

American Headache & Migraine Association: New Patient Organization

The American Headache & Migraine Association (AHMA), a new patient-centered organization for people with headache disorders, is now accepting members! Although the organization is in the early stages, it is already providing great opportunities for patients, including a free, daylong patient-focused conference in this November. The conference will feature presentations by some of the top physicians in headache medicine.

Here’s an overview from AHMA (I’ve done a little rearranging and highlighting):

Our goal in establishing AHMA is to: EASE the burden of migraine and other headache disorders, such as cluster and tension type headache and trigeminal and occipital neuralgia, through Education, Awareness, Support and Engagement.


It’s important to everyone involved in AHMA leadership for our members to help direct the course of AHMA programming. By joining AHMA this early, you can have a strong influence on the direction of our efforts and ensure they help meet your needs and desires and those of the other members.

Right now the most significant programs/events we have in place are:

  • A members-only support and information forum. It can only be accessed by joining AHMA. New members are sent the link and the password to access it upon joining.
  • A free, members-only patient conference, which will be held on Sunday, November 24, 2013, in Scottsdale, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix). We’re still hard at work planning the conference and finalizing details, but some of the most brilliant physician experts in the AHS  have already volunteered to present on topics of special importance to Headache Disorders patients and their loved ones. We’re working hard to make the event as affordable as possible.
  • AHMA has already started engaging in social media, so please like and follow us if you haven’t already:

Membership dues are reasonable. The membership types and respective dues are as follows. (Note: An effort to establish and set dues for a Lifetime Family Membership category is currently in the works.):

  • $15 per year: Standard Membership
  • $250: Lifetime Membership
  • $0: Active Duty Military and Immediate Family; Disabled Veterans and Immediate Family
  • $25: Family Membership for two or more members in the same family at the same address

Please visit to join AHMA.


  • Chair: Teri Robert; Co-Chair: Dr. Paul Winner
  • Chair Elect: Ellen Schnakenberg; Co-Chair Elect: Dr. Bert Vargas
  • Vice Chair: Bob Wold; Co-Vice Chair: Dr. Rob Nicholson
  • Treasurer: Julie Zellner McDonald; Co-Treasurer: Dr. Rebecca Wells
  • Secretary: Diana Lee; Co-Secretary: Dr. Rob Cowan

For more information about AHMA and to join, please visit

Chronic Migraine, Community, Coping, Doctors, Patient Education, Treatment

Ask a Headache Specialist: Stanford Headache Clinic Director Taking Your Questions

Have a question for a headache specialist? Robert Cowan, MD, director of the Stanford Headache Clinic and a lifelong migraineur, wants to answer them. Submit your questions by 5 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, March 8, by tweeting with the hashtag #AskSUMed or commenting on the Scope blog post: Ask Stanford Med: Director of Stanford Headache Clinic taking questions on headache disorders.

Stanford Medicine asks that you follow these ground rules when submitting a question:

  • Stay on topic
  • Be respectful to the person answering your questions
  • Be respectful to one another in submitting questions
  • Do not monopolize the conversation or post the same question repeatedly
  • Kindly ignore disrespectful or off topic comments
  • Know that Twitter handles and/or names may be used in the responses
Patient Education, Symptoms

Chronic Migraine Defined (A Correction)

In All Migraineurs Are Different — So Stop Judging Me!, I wrote “…losing two days a week to migraine does not meet the clinical definition of chronic migraine, which is 15 or more migraine days a month.” Leora delicately pointed out that this is incorrect. Chronic migraine is actually defined as 15 or more headache days a month, eight of which are migraine. That’s my summary at least.

Verbatim, the current criteria for chronic migraine according to the International Headache Society follows. I’ve left out the footnotes; check the link for details.

A)    Headache (tension-type and/or migraine) on ≥15 days per month for at least 3 months*

B)     Occurring in a patient who has had at least five attacks fulfilling criteria for 1.1 Migraine without aura

C)    On ≥8 days per month for at least 3 months headache has fulfilled C1 and/or C2 below, that is, has fulfilled criteria for pain and associated symptoms of migraine without aura

1)     Has at least two of a-d

a)      unilateral location

b)     pulsating quality

c)      moderate or severe pain intensity

d)      aggravation by or causing avoidance of routine physical activity (e.g. walking or climbing stairs)

and at least one of a or b

a)      nausea and/or vomiting

b)     photophobia and phonophobia

2)     Treated and relieved by triptan(s) or ergot before the expected development of C1 above

D)    No medication overuse† and not attributed to another causative disorder‡

I’m not sure if my initial statement was outdated or just outright wrong, but it doesn’t really matter. I appreciate readers who are willing to point out my mistakes without calling me an idiot! Thanks, Leora.

Coping, Patient Education, Society

Migraine is to Headache as Godzilla is to Lizard

Really. You think migraine is just a headache? And I suppose Godzilla is just a lizard?

This is brilliant!

I really feel like I’ve been facing Godzilla the last couple months. The occipital nerve blocks worsened my migraines for a month. As soon as I recovered, I started on Lyrica for migraine prevention and wound up with massive fatigue and severe depression. I’m still a little depressed, but am coming out of it gradually. Hope to see you again soon!