Sensitivity to anxiety may hamper physical activity participation in women with migraine, according to a study which may lead to new interventions for managing the neurological condition. The study, published in the journal Cephalalgia, noted that migraine affects around 10-15 per cent of the population around the globe. It said the most common diagnosis criteria for migraine include a throbbing, unilateral head pain, hypersensitivity to lights, sounds, odours, and aggravation by activity.
The researchers, including those from Brown University in the US, assessed 100 women with probable migraine, who filled an online survey covering anxiety sensitivity scores, and intentional avoidance of moderate and vigorous physical activity in the past month.
The participants were also asked to report their self-rated perception -- on a scale from zero to 100 per cent -- that physical activity may trigger a migraine attack and worsen their symptoms.
The results of the study revealed that increased anxiety sensitivity scores are associated with physical activity avoidance of both moderate and vigorous intensities. The researchers said a one-point increase in the anxiety sensitivity scale resulted in up to 5 per cent increase in the odds for avoiding physical activity.
Concerns about the physical consequences of bodily sensations, such as difficulty in breathing, were linked to a 7.5-fold higher odds for avoiding vigorous activity.
The study noted that the cognitive consequences of bodily sensations, like the inability to concentrate was associated with an almost 5-fold higher odds for avoiding moderate physical activity. "Patients with migraine and elevated anxiety sensitivity could benefit from tailored, multi-component intervention," the researchers noted. These interventions, they said, included education about the positive effect of physical activity on migraine, and the detrimental effect of avoidance.
According to the researchers, interventions also included "feedback about the perceived versus actual rates of physical activity in triggering, or worsening migraine, and use of gradual exposure to facilitate desensitisation".