Childhood abuse and migraine: epidemiology, sex differences, and potential mechanisms

Headache. 2011 Jun;51(6):869-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2011.01906.x.


Migraine and maltreatment are both common conditions that are more prevalent in women. Epidemiological evidence supports an association between childhood abuse and headache, as well as pain in general, although some controversy exists based on methodological concerns of studying the influence of remote, traumatic, stigmatizing events in an often depressed population. There is a growing scientific body of knowledge regarding the neurobiological effects of abuse on brain function and structure that suggest a possible role of early life stress in the pathogenesis of migraine, and a differential impact based on sex. Advances in our understanding of the basic mechanisms by which an adverse environment interacts with and changes the genome, may suggest new treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse* / psychology
  • Child
  • Comorbidity / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology