Ugh, Having Migraines Just Got Even Worse

Illustrated by Austin Watts.
Migraines can be awful; if you're prone to them, you have our sympathy. Now, new research suggests that migraine sufferers are at a higher risk of developing another unpleasant condition: carpal tunnel syndrome.

For the study, published recently in PRS Global Open, researchers looked at data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey for 25,880 people. Of those surveyed, 16.3% reported experiencing migraines and 3.7% had carpal tunnel. But, the prevalence for migraines was 34% for those who had carpal tunnel — compared to 16% in those without. And, the prevalence for carpal tunnel was 8% for those with migraines compared to 3% for those without.

Therefore, the study authors conclude that having one condition more than doubles your risk for developing the other. Interestingly, migraines were more common among younger respondents (with the highest rate of occurrence between ages 18 and 34), while carpal tunnel was more common in older ones (between ages 50 and 64). So, people who have migraines at a younger age could be more likely to develop carpal tunnel as they get older. 

Other factors associated with increased risk for migraines and carpal tunnel were a higher BMI, diabetes, and currently being a smoker. Both conditions were also more common in women. However, contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that carpal tunnel syndrome is very rarely caused by typing. Instead, the authors suggest that the two conditions may be outcomes of a certain (as yet undetermined) underlying vulnerability, and that migraines may be an "early warning sign" of carpal tunnel developing later on.

However, this study has its drawbacks: The information here was self-reported, and although this study suggests the two conditions are linked, it doesn't necessarily imply one is caused by the other.

There is hope for the migraine sufferer nevertheless: A recently presented study showed off a new migraine treatment method that directly targets a bundle of nerves at the back of the nasal cavity. This groundbreaking new approach was successful in lessening patients' migraine pain for at least a month. 
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