A headline in Pain Medicine News caught our attention. It read: NSAIDS PROVIDE ACUTE MIGRAINE RELIEF
The story was about a retrospective study of 741 individuals (over 600 of them women) at the Center for the Study of Headache at the G. D’Annunzio University of Chieti in Italy between 2000 and 2009.
The researchers found that 18% used ketoprofen, 17% used ibuprofen and 55% used nimesulide—which is not available in the United States. Of the study patients, 70% used more than one NSAID at a time. The use of triptans, a class of medication for treating acute migraines, was reported by 7.1% of the patients
One of the leading migraine experts in the U.S. is Dr. Andrew Charles of UCLA. He is a Professor of Neurology and director of the Headache Research and Treatment Program at the Geffen School of Medicine.
He was cautious about the survey results.
“This study presents a positive picture of patient responses to NSAIDS,” Dr. Charles told the National Pain Report. “While I don’t necessarily disagree with their findings, the unfortunate reality is that the overwhelming majority of migraine patients have already tried over-the -counter NSAIDS, and a significant percentage of these patients are not satisfied with the benefit that they receive.”
Even the lead investigator of the Italian study said there’s more to learn.
“We can’t state whether NSAIDs should be preferred to other medications for acute migraine or vice versa because although NSAIDs are far less expensive, what really counts is the efficacy and side effects, and these are different for every patient,” said lead investigator Maria Adele Giamberardino, MD, associate professor of internal medicine at the G. D’Annunzio University of Chieti. “In any case, symptomatic treatment with NSAIDs or other drugs should run parallel with prophylactic treatment, when indicated, to reduce the number of attacks and thus use and abuse of the acute treatment drug.”
Stephen Silberstein, MD, professor of neurology and director of the Headache Center, Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia, told Pain Medicine News he is “anxiously awaiting” the results from the complete study.
“The poster presented a retrospective analysis that just looked at people who had been taking NSAIDs. And if you ask the average person if the drugs they’re taking are good, they say yes. So these results just tell you that people keep taking the drugs they’re satisfied with,” said Dr. Silberstein.
For Dr. Charles, who in addition to treating migraines also suffers from them, it was an opportunity to talk about what he considers to be a major issue in learning about migraines—the need for more research.
“NSAIDS are just one of the tools in our current kit for acute headache therapy,” he added, “but we remain in desperate need of more effective and better tolerated tools.”
The Migraine Research Foundation estimates 36 million Americans suffer from migraines.