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What is the prevalence of migraine in Australia?

Almost 4.9 million Australians, or 20% of the population, suffer from migraines, a common neurological disorder. Around 23% of women and 16% of males, respectively, experience migraines, making them more common among women. Although it can happen to anyone at any age, the illness usually begins to manifest in adolescence or early adulthood.

Many variables, including genetic and environmental factors, lifestyle elements like stress and sleep patterns, and associated illnesses like anxiety and depression, might affect the prevalence of migraines. According to estimates, migraine-related conditions cost the Australian economy $35.7 billion annually and is a substantial contributor to disability and lost productivity.

Ryvlin et al. (2021) found that chronic migraines are managed suboptimally in the primary care due to being underdiagnosed and undertreated. Research has also found a strong correlation between the stigma of chronic migraine and being unable to work (Young et al., 2013), making it difficult to treat a condition that society sees as debilitating.

Clinicians may avoid diagnosing and treating migraines. Why? They may feel uncomfortable or may have a lack of knowledge. There are currently so many conflicting internal and external treatment modalities. As a clinician it becomes hard to give advice on subject that we don’t truly understand because we know that patients take our advice as gospel. So generally, clinicians will avoid giving advice on a subject they feel uncomfortable with.

However, there is hope. We now know the huge burden migraine has on the health care system. We have a diagnostic criteria, and there are a lot of different research groups conducting research on different treatment modalities. Almost like a race to see who is going to find the best treatment modality for migraine.

How do you diagnose migraines?

The typical criteria used to diagnose a migraine are as follows:

  • Having had five attacks that last 4-72 hours;
  • The location of the pain on the head or face is unilateral (one-sided);
  • The nature of pain is pulsating that is moderate to severe in intensity;
  • Physical activity is normally avoided as it aggravates symptoms; and
  • Finally, during an attack patients will present with at least one of following; nausea and/or vomiting and have either sensitivity to light, sound or both.

What is the best treatment modality for migraine?

Generally speaking when it comes to migraine pain, the causes are multi-factorial so will need multiple modalities and lifestyle changes to get the best results. There are currently plenty of migraines prevention options on the market as well as alternative migraine treatment and non-medication migraine treatments options. Below we will discuss some of these options.

The latest research would indicate that migraine is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system. The nervous system transmits and receives messages to and from various parts of the body, including the pain centre. Though the neurological system’s role in migraines is complicated and poorly understood, research points to alterations in the brain and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a significant pain pathway, as possible causes of the illness.

The trigeminal nerve releases substances during a migraine attack that leads to activation and sensitisation of the trigeminovascular pathways resulting in migraine-related distinctive throbbing pain.

There are numerous migraine treatments available. These Include:

The Watson Headache approach is a non-invasive and non-medication migraine treatment option for migraines and other types of headaches. It is based on a comprehensive understanding of the neurological and musculoskeletal systems and aims to address the underlying cause of the headache rather than simply treating the symptoms. The approach is based on the idea that a specific type of joint dysfunction in the upper neck, called a cervicogenic headache, can lead to neurological sensitisation and trigger migraines.

Adjusting your way of life, such as avoiding trigger foods, exercising frequently, and managing stress, can also help prevent migraines. Alternative treatments like acupuncture, biofeedback, or massage may potentially help reduce the symptoms of migraines.

Prescription and non-prescription drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin are among the painkillers that can be used to treat mild to moderate migraine symptoms. To treat mild to severe migraines, doctors prescribe triptans, ergotamines, and other drugs. These medications reduce cerebral blood flow while also suppressing pain signals. If you experience frequent migraines, your doctor may also give migraine prevention options such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, or anticonvulsants to minimise the frequency and intensity of your migraines.

Some patients undergo alternative migraine treatment options such as injecting botox that are permitted for the treatment of recurrent migraines into the effected regions. The injections, which are administered every 12 weeks, relieve muscle tension and block pain signals.

Please reach out to the highly trained clinicians at Sydney Headache and Migraine Clinic who will help you navigate all the uncertainty.


Ryvlin, P., Skorobogatykh, K., Negro, A., Sanchez-De La Rosa, R., Israel-Willner, H., Sundal, C., MacGregor, E. A., & Guerrero, A. L. (2021). Current clinical practice in disabling and chronic migraine in the primary care setting: results from the European My-LIFE anamnesis survey. BMC Neurology, 21(1).

Young, W. B., Park, J. E., Tian, I. X., & Kempner, J. (2013). The Stigma of Migraine. PLoS ONE, 8(1), e54074.

Migraine in Australia Whitepaper. (2018). Migraine in Australia whitepaper | Deloitte Australia | Deloitte Access Economics report, Health. Deloitte Australia.