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Headache. 2010 May;50(5):895-908. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2010.01669.x.

The lack of peripheral pathology in migraine headache.

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Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia.


This article reviews the baffling problem of the pathophysiology behind a peripheral genesis of migraine pain--or more particularly the baffling problem of its absence. I examine a number of pathophysiological states and the effector mechanisms for these states and find most of them very plausible and that they are all supported by abundant evidence. However, this evidence is mostly indirect; to date the occurrence of any of the presumed pathological states has not been convincingly demonstrated. Furthermore, there is little evidence of increased trigeminal sensory traffic into the central nervous system during a migraine attack. The article also examines a number of observations and experimental programs used to bolster a theory of peripheral pathology and suggests reasons why they may in fact not bolster it. I suggest that a pathology, if one exists, may be in the brain and even that it may not be a pathology at all. Migraine headache might just happen because of random noise in an exquisitely sensitive and complex network. The article suggests an experimental program to resolve these issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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