London: Women who suffer from chronic
pelvic pain are more likely to have migraine, say researchers
who claim to have found a link between the two conditions.
A new study has found that seven out of ten women with
chronic pelvic pain also have migraine, three times the normal
rate, a finding which could someday pave the way for a better
treatment for both the conditions, the `Daily Mail` reported.
Chronic pelvic pain is characterised by discomfort
in the region between the hips, below the bellybutton, for six
months or more. While few cases are linked to infections or
growths within the uterus, often the cause is not discovered.
A migraine is usually felt as a throbbing pain
at the front or on one side of the head. Some sufferers also
experience nausea and sensitivity to light.
In the latest study, the researchers, led by the US
government`s National Institutes of Health, investigated the
relationship between migraine and chronic pelvic pain in some
women, with and without endometriosis, a condition that causes
tissue from lining of uterus to migrate to other body parts.
The women, aged up to 46, had suffered for an average
of around ten years. Results showed that 67 per cent of women
with chronic pelvic pain had migraines and another eight per
cent had headaches that were possible migraines, three times
the rate found in women generally. Migraine was no more likely
in women with endometriosis than those without.
"Migraine might be more closely associated with
chronic pelvic pain than with endometriosis itself. Further
investigations may lead to better understanding and management
of migraine, endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain," Professor
Stephen Silberstein, who led the study, said. According to the researchers, one theory is that
hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins may be involved.
These have a role in number of functions, such as inflammation
and the contraction and relaxation of blood vessels.
Another theory is that the women with one form of
chronic pain become more sensitive to other sources of pain as
their nerve cells increase in general sensitivity. Symptoms
that would normally not cause pain now do because thresholds
have been lowered, the researchers say.
"This interesting study identifies a much-increased
prevalence of migraine in those with chronic pelvic pain than
in the general population," said Dr Andrew Dowson, head of
headache services at King`s College Hospital, London, and
chairman of Migraine Action`s medical advisory board.
"Other possibilities are that analgesics taken for
pelvic pain exacerbate the headache condition, or that pelvic
pain is another example of pain sensitising the nervous
system, leading to increased headaches," he added.
Dr Nicholas Silver, consultant neurologist at the
Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Liverpool, said:
"These findings support what we have suspected for a long time
-- we often see patients at our migraine clinic complaining of
other types of nerve-related pain; in the neck, back, abdomen
"Our approach is to get patients off any analgesics,
off caffeine, make sure they eat regularly and tackle any
sleep problems. We can then look for effective ways of
treating the migraine, and once we have the other pain tends
to disappear too."