Is migraine a neuropathic pain syndrome?

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2006 Jun;10(3):167-78. doi: 10.1007/s11916-006-0042-y.


The understanding of migraine pathophysiology has evolved from the belief that migraine is a vascular disorder, to evidence that better defines migraine as a neurogenic disorder associated with secondary changes in brain perfusion. There is evidence to suggest that the early phase of migraine pain results from neurogenic inflammation affecting cranial blood vessels and dura. Allodynia, hyperalgesia, and expansion of nociceptive fields occur during most well-established migraine attacks. These clinical features of migraine are evocative of those traditionally associated with neuropathic pain. A hypothesis that defines migraine pain as a unique neuropathic pain disorder can imply the potential for neural plasticity and may provide insight into the mechanisms that underlie the transformation of episodic to chronic forms of migraine. The neuropathic pain model of migraine pathophysiology not only paves the way for mechanism-based treatment strategies that can improve the acute and preventive management of migraine attacks, but also opens the door for the discovery of novel therapeutic targets. It also lends momentum to an understanding of clinically intriguing topics such as opiate-induced hyperalgesia and medication-overuse headache (rebound headache), opioid resistance in the treatment of chronic headache, and disease modification in defending against the potential for migraine transformation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy
  • Neuralgia / complications
  • Neuralgia / diagnosis*
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology
  • Syndrome