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Migraine More A Nightmare Than A Headache In The Workplace

Office worker
17th December 2013

Migraine may well be thought of as the injury compensation elephant in the room. Current statistics for the condition tend to suggest the real effect the condition could be having upon the UK working population. It has been estimated that there are around 190,000 migraine attacks lasting between 4 and 72 hours every single day.

A staggering 1 in 7 people suffer migraine, affecting twice as many women as men, and more than those with diabetes, asthma and epilepsy combined. Yet, nearly 4 in 10 of migraine sufferers will face discrimination or worse in the workplace because of their debilitating condition.

According to recent research, three out of five migraine sufferers have stated that their employers, “had not made any allowances or changes to accommodate the situation” and nearly a half felt unfairly treated because of the time they took off work when an attack occurred. In one study, it was found that over 20 per cent of migraine sufferers had actually lost their jobs.

The failure by some employers to recognise the seriousness of the condition could make them liable to disability discrimination law. In addition, there is also the real possibility that injury claims could be made as a result of working conditions having a contributory effect. Headaches are often the first sign and the most common symptoms for both physical and psychological disorders.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), severe migraine attacks are categorised as among the most disabling of illnesses, comparable to dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis. WHO also state that depression, “is three times more common in people with migraine or severe headaches than in healthy individuals.”

Besides the intense and nausea inducing migraine pain which affects one side of the head, there is also a serious type of headache, which clusters around the eyes and a sharp shooting neuralgia pain affecting the face neck or the head.

A slip, trip and fall, which occurs in the workplace can lead to back and head injuries or even a fracture of the skull and frequent headaches. Where working conditions necessitate adopting an awkward position of head and body, unnatural stress is placed on the cranial nerve, which can result in prolonged episodes of headaches or other unspecified pain.

Migraine is the most prevalent neurological condition in the UK costing around £2.25 billion per annum and an estimated 25 million days lost from work. Yet, at least 50 per cent of all sufferers remain undiagnosed and undertreated, and less than a half seek advice from a doctor or health clinic.