Encore: Migraine Science Making Strides

Nov 13, 2014

36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, but understanding why exactly these types of headaches happen has been elusive. 


Until recently, scientists thought migraines were a vascular issue, caused by irregular blood flow to the brain, but Dr. Lynn Rankin of Unity Point Health in Des Moines says we’ve come to a new understanding in the last few years. Migraines are most likely a brain disorder that has to do with pain circuitry. 

She says finding answers to why migraines happen and how to treat them is a complicated question that's been hard to answer given a lack of funding for research. Earlier this year, the FDA approved a headband to help migraine sufferers, but there haven't been drugs developed exclusively to treat migraine since the early 1990's. 

During this River to River interview, Ben Kieffer talks with Marianne Crandall, a migraine sufferer from Des Moines who changed careers to get her headaches under control, and Dr. Ranking about why migraines happen and what we’re learning about how to treat them.