Approach to Pediatric Intractable Migraine

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2021 Jun 4;21(8):38. doi: 10.1007/s11910-021-01128-9.


Purpose of review: Intractable migraine in children and adolescents is a significant cause of disability and decreased quality of life (QoL) in this population. Challenges include lack of unifying definition for intractable migraine, and limited data on best-practice management in this age group, with most current treatment pathways extrapolated from adult studies or expert consensus.

Recent findings: A comprehensive approach in the evaluation and management of intractable migraine in this age group encompasses excluding secondary causes of headache; making an accurate diagnosis; identifying and appropriately managing modifiable risk factors; and initiating appropriate pharmacologic therapy to reduce disability, improve health-related quality of life, reduce risk of progression, and develop adaptive pain coping strategies. Several strategies for management of pediatric intractable migraine including use of acute medications, bridge therapy in outpatient setting, emerging therapies for preventive therapy, and a stepwise combination therapy for management of pediatric intractable migraine in emergency and inpatient setting are presented based on available clinical data, safety/tolerability, availability, cost-effectiveness, and expert consensus. This descriptive review of the available literature focuses on approach to therapy for acute intractable migraine in a pediatric population including outpatient, emergency department (ED), and inpatient management.

Keywords: Intractable migraine; Pediatric migraine; Refractory migraine; Status migrainosus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Migraine Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Migraine Disorders* / therapy
  • Quality of Life*