Is Migraine Headache Associated With Concussion in Athletes? A Case-Control Study

Clin J Sport Med. 2017 May;27(3):266-270. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000346.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between migraine headache and concussion in athletes.

Design: Case-control observational study.

Setting: A university-associated combined sports neurology and orthopedic sports medicine clinic.

Participants: A total of 221 male (n = 140) and female (n = 81) athletes aged 12 to 24 years, including 115 concussion cases (52%) and 106 orthopedic controls (48%), were included in this study.

Interventions: Participants completed a one-page questionnaire that recorded their age, sex, reason for visit (concussion vs any other injury), concussion history, and self/immediate family member migraine headache history.

Main outcome measures: The odds of having a previous history of migraine headache were compared in the concussion group versus orthopedic controls.

Results: Controlling for between-group differences in age and sex, there was a significant positive association between concussion group status and history of migraine headache [adjusted odds ratio (OR), 1.90; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.03-3.50. P = 0.039]. However, when including a previous concussion history in the statistical model, this relationship failed to reach significance [adjusted OR, 1.68; 95% CI, 0.89-3.16. P = 0.107].

Conclusions: These results suggest that there is an association between migraine headache and concussion in athletes, but the cause-effect nature of this relationship cannot be determined. Migraine headache should be considered a modifying factor when caring for concussed athletes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Concussion / complications*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Young Adult