Clinical Topics & News

Study Supports Vertigo as “Integral Manifestation” of Migraine, Rather Than Symptom


 

Key Points:

  • The “Migraine and Neck Pain Study” analyzed data from nearly 500 adult participants in an effort to uncover an association between migraine-related episodic vertigo and the phases of migraine.
  • The study participants included men and women aged 18 to 65, who had episodic migraine with aura and/or without aura.
  • Migraines were divided into 3 time segments for evaluation: (1) Onset of headache, (2) less than 2 hours before the onset of headache, and (3) 2 to 48 hours before the onset of headache.
  • 30% of participants reported episodic vertigo at any point during their migraine attack, while 16% reported it at the start of headache, 10% reported it within 2 hours before their headache, and just 3% reported symptoms between 2 and 24 hours beforehand.
  • The study concluded that episodic vertigo could be considered more of a “headache phase phenomenon” rather than a prodromal symptom.

Alan M. Rapoport, MD:

Vertigo in a migraineur has long created confusion as to diagnosis and treatment. I myself always wondered how much I had to work up vertigo or even dizziness if a patient had migraine. I also did not know what to do when a patient with migraine had attacks of vertigo without headache. Were they manifestations of migraine and should they be treated that way?

This study examined a 500 adult patient population who had migraine with or without aura. Christian Lampl was interested in seeing how many had headache, and the timing of when vertigo occurred. It was carefully measured to determine if it usually occurred during or before the headache phase. Migraines were divided into 3 time segments for evaluation: (1) Onset of headache, (2) less than 2 hours before the onset of headache, and (3) 2 to 48 hours before the onset of headache, when prodrome occurs.

  • The study determined that 30 % of the patients reported vertigo at some point during their migraine attack; 16% reported it at the start of headache, 10% reported it within 2 hours before their headache, and just 3% reported symptoms between 2 and 24 hours beforehand., which would have been in the prodromal phase.
  • The study concluded that episodic vertigo could be considered more of a “headache phase phenomenon” rather than a prodromal symptom. This was interesting but it left unanswered one of my questions which is, how many had vertigo unrelated to headache and what is that and how do we treat it.
  • Although not addressed in this study, there is consensus that if there is enough vertigo in a migraineur, they should be placed on a migraine preventive therapy. It will be interesting to see what the new monoclonal antibodies to CGRP do to vertigo in a treated migraineur. Some headache specialists will even treat an attack of vertigo without headache with a triptan.

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