Self-reported comorbid pains in severe headaches or migraines in a US national sample

Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 05/07/2012

Severe headache or migraine is often associated with other common pains, seldom existing alone. Two or more comorbid pains are common, similarly affecting gender and racial/ethnic groups.


  • National Health Interview Survey data included information on gender, age, race, ethnicity, health status, and common pain types: severe headache or migraine, temporomandibular joint muscle disorder–type, neck, and low back in the last 3 months, as well as prior–month joint pains.
  • Analyses included survey prevalence estimation and survey logistic regression to obtain odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.


  • The study included 189,967 adults: 48% males, 52% females; 73% white, 12% Hispanic, and 11% black.
  • Of the entire sample, 29,712 (15%) reported severe headache or migraine, and 19,228 (64%) had severe headache or migraine with at least 1 comorbid pain.
  • Two or more comorbid pains were reported in 10,200 (33%), with no gender difference, and with Hispanics (n = 1847 or 32%) and blacks (n = 1301 or 30%) less likely to report 2 or more comorbid pains than whites (n = 6747 or 34%) (odds ratio = 0.91, P = .032; OR = 0.82, P < .001, respectively).
  • This group also reported significantly lower ratings of self–rated health (P < .001).
  • Differences in type of comorbid pain by age patterns were found.

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