Self-reported comorbid pains in severe headaches or migraines in a US national sample

Headache. 2012 Jun;52(6):946-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2012.02155.x. Epub 2012 May 3.


Aims: To compare prevalence of self-reported comorbid temporomandibular joint muscle disorder-type, neck, back, and joint pains in people with severe headache or migraine; and analyze these self-reported pains in the 2000-2005 US National Health Interview Survey by gender and age for non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic blacks (African Americans).

Methods: National Health Interview Survey data included information on gender, age, race, ethnicity, health status, and common pain types: severe headache or migraine, temporomandibular joint muscle disorder-type, neck, and low back in the last 3 months, as well as prior-month joint pains. Analyses included survey prevalence estimation and survey logistic regression to obtain odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.

Results: The study included 189,967 adults: 48% males, 52% females; 73% white, 12% Hispanic, and 11% black. Of the entire sample, 29,712 (15%) reported severe headache or migraine, and 19,228 (64%) had severe headache or migraine with at least 1 comorbid pain. Two or more comorbid pains were reported in 10,200 (33%), with no gender difference, and with Hispanics (n = 1847 or 32%) and blacks (n = 1301 or 30%) less likely to report 2 or more comorbid pains than whites (n = 6747 or 34%) (odds ratio = 0.91, P = .032; OR = 0.82, P < .001, respectively). This group also reported significantly lower ratings of self-rated health (P < .001). Differences in type of comorbid pain by age patterns were found.

Conclusions: Severe headache or migraine is often associated with other common pains, seldom existing alone. Two or more comorbid pains are common, similarly affecting gender and racial/ethnic groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Arthralgia / epidemiology*
  • Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Headache / ethnology
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Sex Distribution
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / epidemiology*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data