Aikman Says He's Suffered Migraines Since Childhood
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman said he has been bothered by migraine headaches but does not believe they are related to the multiple concussions he had as a player with the Dallas Cowboys.
"I do think a lot of people will draw a correlation there," said Aikman, who is promoting a campaign for men to become more aware of migraines. "I know [former 49ers quarterback] Steve Young and I are getting brought up in concussion discussions. But Steve and I had a small number of concussions compared to other players. In the '70s and '80s, I'm sure there were a number of guys who had concussions every game, but it was just diagnosed as having 'their bell rung.' "
Aikman is believed to have suffered 10 concussions in his career.
He said the migraines started when he was a child and were probably triggered by his father's smoking. Even today, he said, smoke can bring on the headaches. Though a bigger cause for him seems to be flying, something he has to do more now than when he was playing because he is an analyst for Fox and is frequently required to fly across the country. His sister also suffered from migraines but went to a doctor for treatment at an early age.
Aikman said he never reported his headaches to doctors while he played mostly because they were never debilitating and also because of a culture in which men think they can tough out the pain. He said he now controls the headaches with the drug Imitrex and suggested people check the Web site http:/
He added that he was hesitant to go public with his migraine problem largely because he figured people would assume they were a result of his concussions.
"I don't think there is a connection," he said.
His belief was generally supported by Richard B. Lipton, a professor and vice chair of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and a migraine expert.
"I think he would have had migraines even if his sport was badminton," Lipton said.
Though he was quick to add: "Head injury is never good for you."
"The current belief is that injury doesn't cause migraines but it can make them worse," Lipton continued. "If you're a person with migraines, it might make them worse. If you have a family history but haven't had migraines before it might cause it. Head injury may activate or exacerbate the migraines."
Aikman said he has followed the recent debate about concussions in professional football with interest and is glad the NFL is instituting a concussion policy. He said he believes the concussion seminar that all trainers must now attend might draw more attention to migraines.
-- Les Carpenter