The Effect of Mindfulness Practices on Migraine: Paige Estave, PhD


The MD-PhD student at Wake Forest School of Medicine shared her perspective on the findings of a study suggesting that mindfulness practices can alter pain perception and migraine attack awareness, among other results. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

“After they learned mindfulness, they really infused it into their daily life. They practiced mindfulness, and they learned the skills. One of them is interoception—so, tuning into your body’s sensations—and what happens is [the] learn the symptoms of migraine onset, the prodrome, and what we saw was that patients took their medications earlier. When you take your medication sooner and abort that migraine, it doesn’t get as severe.”

At the 2022 American Headache Society (AHS) Annual Scientific Meeting, June 9-11, in Denver, Colorado, data were presented from a study assessing mindfulness practices in patients with migraine, ultimately suggestive of potential mechanisms of effect in this population, notably, increased stress-body and interoceptive awareness, improvement in emotion regulation, as well as altered pain and migraine experiences.1

Presented by Paige Estave, PhD, an MD-PhD student on the comprehensive headache research team at Wake Forest School of Medicine, the study included semi-structured qualitative interviews with adults with migraine who participated in 2 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) clinical trials (n = 43). These interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and then summarized into a framework matrix. All told, the individuals who learned the practice through MBSR reported altered pain perception—measured by quantitative sensory testing—and altered migraine attack response. Additionally, participants reported an earlier stress-body awareness and an increased interoceptive awareness that allowed for earlier attack recognition, and thus, earlier and more effective management.

To find out more about this study and its results, NeurologyLive® sat down with Estave while in Denver. She spoke about the experience reported by the participants and shared her perspective on the results, noting the implications that they carry for the management of migraine in adults. Estave and colleagues concluded that the results support and extend the understanding of mechanisms of mindfulness on migraine and provide direction for future research projects.

Click here for more coverage of AHS 2022.

1. Estave P, Margol CL, Beeghly S, et al. Mechanisms of Mindfulness in Patients with Migraine: Results of a Qualitative Study. Presented at: AHS Annual Meeting; June 9-12, 2022; Denver, CO.
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