Is aerobic exercise an effective treatment for players with migraine?

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Migraine is considered to be one of the most disabling conditions experienced by young adults. There are a variety of treatment options that are available to these patients. Non-pharmacological treatments are one of the most attractive treatment strategies considering the possible adverse effects of many common migraine drugs. The paper included in this FastFact evaluates the possible role of aerobic exercise (AE) as a treatment for this common condition1.

It has been suggested that AE can be used to treat migraine. There are a number of possible mechanisms by which this might occur. AE may have a direct analgesic effect. It is hypothesised that this may be due to increased beta-endorphin levels and activation of the endogenous cannabinoid system. In addition to these analgesic effects exercise may also indirectly improve a patient’s symptoms through psychological and behavioural aspects leading to improved self-efficacy, better sleep and improved mood.

The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the effects of AE on pain intensity, frequency and duration of migraine and quality of life. To be included studies needed to compare AE with other forms of exercise therapy and/or minimal usual care (information, education or medication). A total of 10 studies were included in the systematic review, six of which were included in the meta-analysis. There were a total number of 508 participants (462 female, 37 male).

The results obtained from the meta-analysis showed that exercise has a significant effect, with statistically significant reductions in the frequency, intensity and duration of pain, as well as a statistically significant improvement in quality of life. Three of the studies showed improvements in the exercise group. In another three studies, improvements in both the intervention and control groups were found. Two studies did not obtain statistically significant results. In the only study that included intense exercise, improvements were shown to be superior to lower intensity exercise. One study showed an additional improvement when AE is combined with other therapies. No adverse events or sides effects were recorded in the AE groups while these were common among patients taking migraine medications (such as amitriptyline or topiramate).

Based on the results of this paper it appears that aerobic exercise can be an effective treatment for migraine sufferers and should be prescribed where possible. Whether this finding is generalisable to football, where physical activity may be more intense and/or anaerobic is not clear. We should also be mindful that the sample had a limited number of male participants. Finally, there is a great deal of heterogeneity among the studies analysed and significant concerns about bias.

To learn more about the treatment of migraine (and other headache disorders) complete the “Neurology” module in the FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine.

Reference
1. La Touche R, Fernández Pérez JJ, Proy Acosta A, et al. Is aerobic exercise helpful in patients with migraine? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2020;30:965–982.

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Amenalnsasrah
Amenalnsasrah
11 June 2020 13:01

نعم مفيده

karthick k
11 June 2020 13:03

Thank you

ian Beasley
11 June 2020 14:48

many thanks. The comments about the intensity of football is salient here. My experience with footballers is that it gets worse with the intense exercise that is undergone in elite football.

Dr.Majd Belal
11 June 2020 14:51

I think we should do those exercises on a 50 random players from different clubs and cities – i will try to do this in my country syria with co-operation of the syrian football association.

Bangoura
Bangoura
12 June 2020 13:32

LA MIGRAINE EST CARACTERISEE PAR DES DOULEURS INTENSES ET REPETERS DE LA TETE. LES CAUSES PEUVENT ETRE GENETIQUE NEUROLOGIQUE HORMONALES PARFOIS VASCULAIRES.
LES FACTEURS EXTRINSESUES PEUVENT ETRE EXACERBES PAR LE MANSUE DE SOMMEIL ET LES STRESS.
L EXERCICE AEROBIE PEUT ETRE UN TRAITEMENT PREVENTIF EFFICACE POUR LES JOUEURS SOUFFRANT DE MIGRAINE.
L ACTIVITE PHYSIQUE PERMET DE DIMINUER L EFFICACEMENT LA FREQUENCE ET L INTENCITE DES MIGRAINE PAR UNE BONNE VASCULARISATION ET UNE OXYGENATION ADEQUATE..EN TRAITEMENT CURATIF ON PEUT UTILISER DES AINS DES ANTALGIQUES DES ANTIPYRETIQUES.

Bangoura
Bangoura
13 June 2020 21:07

Lire IRRIGATION en place et lieu de VASCULARISATION

LishaoTao
16 June 2020 2:26

For me, from my experiences with migraines, the pain increases with intense workouts or exercises. Some migraines are so bad nausea, photophobia and even sensitivity to sound makes it worse. I do believe we should try this with random people and see what results we get.

Kylie
16 June 2020 6:50

That was interesting

Hossam Mostafa Mahrous
17 June 2020 0:12

Ver thanks

Sajid kadhim Jalil
17 June 2020 23:41

معلومات قيمه

anas.kh
18 June 2020 11:32

good

mehdi ojaghi
22 June 2020 13:13

Thank you
it was useful

Dr WAZIRI ndonde
29 June 2020 14:48

This is a nice review. However, the author didn’t state a dose of AE exercise to treat migraines. should do describe the quality and quantity of AE? A team physician can prescribe and AE as a dose shall state a frequency, Intensity, and time.

Fatemah Mahmoud Alboraei
Fatemah Mahmoud Alboraei
07 July 2020 11:32

A useful hint.. Thanks