9th December 2020

Significant worsening of migraine this year

Over half of people’s migraine was more frequent and a third said that their migraine symptoms were more severe

A survey that we ran into the impact of the pandemic on migraine has found a significant worsening of many people’s migraine this year. The survey of over five hundred (566) people in the UK who get migraine found that it had worsened for two out of three people (68%) since the beginning of March. Over half of people’s migraine was more frequent and a third said that their migraine symptoms were more severe.

It found that many people feared that their migraine would worsen further, and concerns raised included:

“I am worried that I have lost control of my symptoms.”

“My migraine was stable beforehand but now I am taking extra medication and suffering a lot more migraine.”

Why people’s migraine is worsening

Over half (57%) of people whose migraine worsened attributed it to increased stress, 18% reported that it was worse because their lifestyle is harder to manage now, and 16% because they can’t access the treatment and medication they had been receiving for their migraine.

This issue with accessing specialist care for their migraine was particularly acute. One in five (20%) of people had appointments with specialists postponed or cancelled, and 15% were unable to get an appointment with a specialist. The survey also found concern about the lack of access to specialist migraine care and treatment:

“Missing a Botox treatment has caused my migraine to get out of control again.”

“At the start of the pandemic I was awaiting a referral to a specialist. This is being continually pushed back and I feel this will continue for some time.”

“I would like to try the new treatments recently approved by NICE but my GP can’t prescribe them and I waiting for a referral.”

Managing their migraine differently

The survey found that people were managing their migraine very differently than before the pandemic. It found that:

  • 29% reported that they have started taking more medication
  • 15% reported that they have started taking new medication
  • 25% had tried to manage their stress more

The Migraine Trust is worried about the high number of people whose migraine has worsened over the last year and we urge anyone who is struggling with their migraine to seek help. You can contact our Information and Advocacy Services via our online contact form or by calling us on 0203 9510 150 between 10am and 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It is worrying that so many people’s migraine has worsened this year. Migraine is an excruciating and debilitating condition, and anyone struggling with it should seek help. While the health service has adapted over the last nine months, many people are still struggling to access specialist care for their migraine. It is important that people who need specialist help for their migraine are able to access that care. This is more important than ever as a range of ground-breaking new migraine medication has just been approved to be used on the NHS and people can only be prescribed it by a specialist.” Gemma Jolly, Head of Information and Support at The Migraine Trust