Effect of lockdown during COVID-19 on migraine: A longitudinal cohort study

Cephalalgia. 2021 Jun;41(7):865-870. doi: 10.1177/0333102420981739. Epub 2021 Jan 11.


Background: The objective of this study was to assess whether migraine-related outcomes changed during intelligent lockdown when compared with the prior period.

Methods: This was a cohort study evaluating the first month of intelligent lockdown in the Netherlands (12 March to 8 April 2020) compared with one baseline month (13 February to 11 March 2020). We identified 870 migraine patients treated at the Leiden Headache Center with headache e-diaries during the period of interest. Adherence to the e-diary had to be ≥80%, yielding 592 enrolled patients.

Results: Intelligent lockdown led to a decrease in monthly migraine days (-0.48; 95% CI: -0.78 to -0.18, p = 0.002) and acute medication days (-0.48; 95% CI: -0.76 to -0.20, p < 0.001), and an increase in general well-being (0.11; 95% CI: 0.06 to 0.17, p < 0.001). No differences in non-migrainous headache days and pain coping were observed. Consistent results were found in a subset that was followed for 4 months.

Conclusions: Our findings imply that intelligent lockdown measures can improve migraine disability despite of the potential negative effects of COVID-19 and lockdown. We hypothesise that this effect is a combined result of working from home, scaling down demanding social lives, and freedom to choose how to organise one's time.

Keywords: Headache; e-diary; lifestyle changes; telemedicine; triggers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods*
  • Communicable Disease Control / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Medical Records*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Telemedicine / methods
  • Telemedicine / trends