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Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study of early-intervention with sumatriptan 85/naproxen sodium 500 in (truly) episodic migraine: what's neck pain got to do with it?

Author(s): Calhoun AH(1), Ford S.

Affiliation(s): Author information: (1)Partner, Co-Founder, Carolina Headache Institute; Professor, Department of Anesthesiology; Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. calhouna@carolinaheadacheinstitute.com.

Publication date & source: 2014, Postgrad Med. , 126(2):86-90

OBJECTIVE: Published studies of triptans in acute migraine have shown relatively disappointing 2-hour pain-free rates, ranging from 18% to 58%, with 2- to 24-hour sustained pain-free rates from 17% to 25%. A major flaw in the design of previous studies may have contributed to disappointing results: many subjects are not truly episodic in the nature of their headaches-they discount days with mild headache and ignore days with migraine-related neck pain. Believing that neck pain is integrally related to migraine, we sought to ascertain whether early treatment with sumatriptan 85/naproxen sodium 500 (sumatriptan/naproxen) in truly episodic migraineurs is more robust than results when neck pain has not been considered. METHODS: Successfully screened adult migraineurs who returned baseline diaries showing 2 to 7 migraine attacks monthly and < 15 headache and/or neck pain days/month received blister packs containing 3 sumatriptan/naproxen/1 placebo for treatment of 4 migraines. Instructions were to treat within the first 30 minutes of mild headache or neck discomfort-but only if the preceding day was completely free of both headache and neck pain. RESULTS: In our study, 63.9% of patient attacks treated with sumatriptan/naproxen achieved 2-hour pain freedom compared with 33.3% of those with placebo (P < 0.001). Sustained pain freedom (2-24 hours) was achieved in 69.1% of sumatriptan/naproxen-treated attacks, compared with 23.3% with placebo (P < 0.01). More subjects using sumatriptan/naproxen achieved sustained pain freedom (than 2-hour pain freedom), due to 6 time points when the subject was sleeping/napping 2-hours post dose (5 sumatriptan/naproxen, 1 placebo), yet attested to no discomfort between 2 and 24 hours post dose. Had the attacks been scored as pain-free at 2 hours, the 2-hour pain-free and sustained pain-free rates with sumatriptan/naproxen would have been identical at 69.1% (vs 36.7% with placebo). With truly episodic migraineurs, pain freedom was significant as soon as 15 minutes following treatment with sumatriptan/naproxen (5.2% vs 0% with placebo; P < 0.01). CONCLUSION: Our study results support a fundamental re-evaluation of the role of neck pain in migraine.

Page last updated: 2014-11-30

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