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Chronic Pain – Stories Of Struggle And Hope: Part 4 - Migraines

BOSTON (CBS) - You may be dizzy. Nauseous. Light bothers you. Noise pierces you to the core. You're not having a headache - you're having a migraine.

Read-Listen: Chronic Pain – Stories Of Struggle And Hope: The Series

"When we speak of conditions like migraine most people think of it as a headache disorder. I always think of it as a headache plus disorder," said Dr. Elizabeth Loder, Chief of the Division of Headache and Pain in the Neurology Department at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The Migraine Research Foundation says some 38 million Americans suffer from this syndrome. Health care and lost productivity costs are as high as $36 billion a year.

"By and large it tends to be most active during the otherwise healthy productive middle years of people's lives. So I always like to remind people that it packs a very large punch," Dr. Loder told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Lisa's experienced that punch first hand.

In her mid-20's she began to have migraines every day. And every day she told herself that she'd get better.

"Is this really the new me? Am I going to be disabled the rest of my life with an invisible disability that half the time people don't have any understanding of?" she said.

Lisa's now 31 and she's making it.

"Through the help of a doctor and also self-research and advocating, just little by little I found things that would help," she told WBZ.

Related: National Headache Foundation

Still, Dr. Loder said it's time to find a cure and she is urging you to lobby Congress and the NIH to invest more money in migraine research.

"Multiple sclerosis, which of course is a very serious problem, or Parkinson's Disease, also serious, are so much less common than migraine, but receive so much more research attention and money. It really, in my mind, approaches a scandal," Dr. Loder said.

She does have some good news. There is a new class of drugs in clinical trials. They focus on the expansion and dilation of blood vessels.

"These new treatment alternatives look at interfering with that process to prevent migraine," Loder said.

Because it's one thing to relieve the pain from a migraine. It's another to prevent it from happening all together.

Coming up in part five, what's being done to help our veterans.

Listen: Part 4 - Chronic Pain – Stories Of Struggle And Hope

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