Resistant and refractory migraine: clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and management

Raffaele Ornello, Anna P. Andreou, Eleonora De Matteis, Tim P. Jürgens, Mia T. Minen, Simona Sacco*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Migraine is a leading cause of disability worldwide. A minority of individuals with migraine develop resistant or refractory conditions characterised by ≥ 8 monthly days of debilitating headaches and inadequate response, intolerance, or contraindication to ≥3 or all preventive drug classes, respectively. Resistant and refractory migraine are emerging clinical definitions stemming from better knowledge of the pathophysiology of migraine and from the advent of migraine-specific preventive treatments. Resistant migraine mostly results from drug failures, while refractory migraine has complex and still unknown mechanisms that impair the efficacy of preventive treatments. Individuals with resistant migraine can be treated with migraine-specific preventive drugs. The management of refractory migraine is challenging and often unsuccessful, being based on combinations of different drugs and non-pharmacological treatment. Future research should aim to identify individuals at risk of developing treatment failures, prevent the condition, investigate the mechanisms of refractoriness to treatments, and find effective treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104943
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • CGRP
  • Migraine-related disability
  • Non-pharmacological treatments
  • Refractory migraine
  • Resistant migraine


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