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Sharron's book is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. The book can be purchased in print form or ebook format.

Conari Press, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC  is the publisher of Sharron's book, Migraine: Identify Your Triggers, Break your Dependence on Medication, Take Back Your Life -  An Integrative Self-Care Plan for Wellness," released June, 2013. Follow Sharron on Twitter @murraysharron, and her page Sharron Murray, MS, RN on Facebook, for tips to help you battle your migraines and achieve wellness.





"It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has." - Hippocrates

I approach this topic from the perspective of Holistic and Eastern medicine. Both of these domains look at the relationship between the body, mind, and spirit. A person is unique, not an example of a particular disease. 

In other words, "I am a person, not a diagnosis". My name is Sharron Murray. I come to this table of migraine disease with my own platter of characteristics. They are as individual to me as my symptoms, triggers, and responses to pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies, including integrative (complementary) strategies. 

A small percentage of us (about 2.5% in the US) progress from episodic migraine (EM) to chronic migraine (CM) each year. This progression is thought to be gradual and may occur over months or years, as our range of attack frequency and headache days increases from 0-9 days per month (low frequency EM - LFEM), to 10-14 days per month (high frequency EM - HFEM), and then to CM with greater than 15 days per month.

Risk factors have been identified that increase our chances of progression. These risk factors, are believed to be non-modifiable (those we cannot influence) and modifiable (those we can influence). In general, non-modifiable risk factors have been identified as:

  • genetic factors,
  • older age,
  • female sex,
  • Caucasian race,
  • worse socioeconomic status,
  • low education levels, and
  • head injury.

Modifiable risk factors are believed to include: 

  • medication overuse,
  • caffeine use/misuse,
  • obesity,*
  • sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea,
  • stressful life events,
  • depression,*
  • anxiety,*
  • chronic pain disorders*,
  • smoking, and
  • substance abuse (drugs and alcohol).

*These risk factors may be comorbid with migraine.

I consider my risk factors to be part of my platter of characteristics. I may have more, or less, than you. If I have more than you, that may make the course of my disease more troublesome and the task of preventing or reversing chronic migraine may be more difficult for me.

That said, once I identify my risk factors, I am able to work with my doctor or other health care professional to improve or eliminate the modifiable ones. In both Holistic and Eastern medicine, the doctor or other health care professional is seen as a guide to assist a person to achieve wellness. This requires me to take responsibility for my own health, and in this case take charge of my modifiable risk factors.

For example, when I taught patients about heart disease, risk factors included hypertension, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, overweight, inactive lifestyle, family history of heart disease, male sex, and older age. Things like sex, genetics and age were beyond their control. I could educate them about the factors within their control, however, whether they decided to quit smoking, lose weight, and lower their cholesterol to decrease their risk of having a heart attack was beyond my capability. On an individual basis, they were in charge of the outcome.

Multiple sources conclude that preventive treatment is essential to reduce the impact of risk factors  on our disease. Many of them suggest non-pharmacological (including integrative or complementary) therapies, combined with medication, as an effective method of treatment. Since 2001, when my migraine attacks were at their worst and my path was complicated by medication overuse, I have been an active participant in integrative treatments and strategies. Besides reverting to infrequent, episodic migraine, I have gained a feeling of empowerment.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to make a list of your modifiable risk factors and then talk to your doctor or other health care professional about ways to improve or eliminate the most problematic. 

Healing doesn't mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives." - Author Unknown.

To me, this quote means healing doesn't mean my migraine disease never existed. Until there is a cure, it will always be a part of me. However, it no longer controls my life. Hence the phrase, "I have migraine disease. It does not have me."


Katsararava, Z., Buse, D.C. et al (2012). "Defining the Differences Between Episodic Migraine and Chronic Migraine." Curr Pain Headache Rep. February; 16(1): 86-92.

Manack, A., Buse, D. C., et al (2011). "Rates, predictors and consequences of remission from chronic migraine to episodic migraine." Neurology. Feb 22;76(8):711-8. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31820d8af2.

Pistoia, F., Sacco, S., and Carolei, A. (2013). "Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Migraine." Curr Pain Headache Rep.  17:304. DOI 10.1007/s11916-012-03

Sharron Murray MS, RN is an author and coauthor CaMEO Study, "Life With Migraine". Currently, Sharron is active in the migraine community as a writer, advocate, American Migraine Foundation Partner, moderator for the American Migraine Foundation "Move Against Migraine" Facebook Group, and member of the National Headache Foundation Patient Leadership Council. 

Follow Sharron on twitter @murraysharron, her Facebook page: Sharron Murray, MS, RN and her website

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any specific concerns about your health or nutrition, please consult a qualified health care professional.

Updated February, 2019

Copyright 2014, Sharron E. Murray



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References (2)

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  • Response
    sharron murray - Sharron's Articles - "I AM A PERSON, NOT A DIAGNOSIS"-A Holistic View of Risk Factors For Chronic Migraine
  • Response
    The person has diagnosis for the new development. It deals with the few virgin for the main side. This can be useful main side of the different type. This is known as the first quality as well.

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