Chronic Daily Headache (SJ Wang, Section Editor)

Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 86-92

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Defining the Differences Between Episodic Migraine and Chronic Migraine

  • Zaza KatsaravaAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, University of Essen Email author 
  • , Dawn C. BuseAffiliated withAlbert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Headache Center
  • , Aubrey N. ManackAffiliated withAllergan, Inc.
  • , Richard B. LiptonAffiliated withAlbert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Headache Center


Chronic migraine (CM) and episodic migraine (EM) are part of the spectrum of migraine disorders, but they are distinct clinical entities. Population-based studies have shown that those with CM demonstrate higher individual and societal burden because they are significantly more disabled than those with EM and have greater impaired quality of life both inside and outside the home. Proper diagnosis of both conditions requires clearly defined clinical criteria. Diagnosis enables the initiation of appropriate treatments and risk-factor modification, which ultimately improve functional status and quality of life for persons with migraine. Recognizing that both disorders are on the spectrum of migraine, this review serves as a guide to define the disease state of CM as distinct from EM in terms of clinical, epidemiological, sociodemographic, and comorbidity profiles.


Chronic migraine Episodic migraine Epidemiological profiles Sociodemographics Risk factors Treatment Chronic daily headache Chronification Diagnosis