Evaluation of the Impact of the COVID-19 Lockdown in the Clinical Course of Migraine

TitleEvaluation of the Impact of the COVID-19 Lockdown in the Clinical Course of Migraine
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsGonzalez-Martinez, A., Á. Planchuelo-Gómez, Á. L. Guerrero, D. García-Azorín, S. Santos-Lasaosa, M. Pilar Navarro-Pérez, P. Odriozola-González, M. Jesús Irurtia, S. Quintas, R. de Luis-García, and A. B. Gago-Veiga
JournalPain Medicine
Date Published2021
KeywordsCOVID-19, Headache, Lockdown, Migraine, SARS-CoV-2

Objective: Previous studies have demonstrated that emotional stress, changes in lifestyle habits and infections can worsen the clinical course of migraine. We hypothesize that changes in habits and medical care during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown might have worsened the clinical course of migraine.

Design: Retrospective survey study collecting online responses from migraine patients followed-up by neurologists at three tertiary hospitals between June and July 2020.

Methods: We used a web-based survey that included demographic data, clinical variables related with any headache (frequency) and migraine (subjective worsening, frequency, and intensity), lockdown, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Results: The response rate of the survey was 239/324 (73.8\%). The final analysis included 222 subjects. Among them, 201/222 (90.5%) were women, aged 42.5 +- 12.0 (mean+-SD). Subjective improvement of migraine during lockdown was reported in 31/222 participants (14.0%), while worsening in 105/222 (47.3%) and was associated with changes in migraine triggers such as stress related to going outdoors and intake of specific foods or drinks. Intensity of attacks increased in 67/222 patients (30.2%), and it was associated with the subjective worsening, female sex, recent insomnia, and use of acute medication during a headache. An increase in monthly days with any headache was observed in 105/222 patients (47.3%) and was related to symptoms of post-traumatic stress, older age and living with five or more people.

Conclusions: Approximately half the migraine patients reported worsening of their usual pain during the lockdown. Worse clinical course in migraine patients was related to changes in triggers and the emotional impact of the lockdown.