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31 Mechanisms of Chronic Migraine

Abstract

Chronic migraine typically evolves from episodic migraine over months to years in susceptible individuals. Headaches increase in frequency over time, becoming less intense but more disabling and less responsive to treatment. The results of electrophysiological and functional imaging studies indicate that chronic migraine is associated with abnormalities in the brain stem that may be progressive. Additionally, chronic migraine is associated with a greater degree of impairment in cortical processing of sensory stimuli than is episodic migraine, perhaps due to a more pervasive or persistent cortical hyperexcitability. These findings fit with the model of migraine as a spectrum disorder, in which the clinical and pathophysiological features of migraine may progress over time. This progression is postulated to result from changes in nociceptive thresholds and ensuing central sensitization caused by recurrent migraine in susceptible individuals,