According to a new scientific study, there is a strong correlation between people's history of emotional abuse and neglect as children and the incidence of migraines and other pain disorders. In addition, the same research has found that people who suffer from migraines and have a history of abuse tend to show more signs of adjacent, related conditions than patients without such a history. The findings carry considerable implications, and should be of use to policymakers in designing new laws to protect children from their own parents or close relatives, ScienceDaily
“Our study found that while childhood maltreatment is associated with depression, the child abuse-adult pain relationship is not fully mediated by depression,” University of Toledo Medical Center expert Gretchen E. Tietjen, MD, explains. Together with colleagues, she gathered data from about 11 outpatient headache centers, creating what is known as a cross-sectional survey of headache clinic patients. The group then correlated the data with three recent population-based studies, and found that depression and anxiety were not directly linked to maltreatment and pain in the participants.
The investigation takes on new meaning when considering the fact that, in 2007 alone, more than 3.2 million cases of child abuse and neglect were registered in the United States alone. These figures, which were released by the US Department of Health and Human Services, referred to the number of investigations conducted by state and local child protective services (CPS). This, in turn, means that the actual number may be larger, as, for example, in families that the CPS were not tipped off, or received complaints, about.
“Since migraine onset preceded onset of the comorbid pain conditions in our population, treatment strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy may be particularly well suited in these cases,” Tietjen says. She believes that doctors should take an interest in the childhood history of their patients, if those coming in for a check-up complain of migraines. The scientist says that this could help healthcare professional establish the risk degree of those people developing comorbid pain disorders, which could be caught and treated early on in their development.