Headaches aren’t just an annoyance—they can also indicate another health condition. Headache Specialists MN may include pain relievers (some are over-the-counter, others require a prescription) and preventive medications.
Drugs that prevent migraines usually work best if taken daily at the first sign of an attack. Other headache treatments include taking riboflavin, butterbur, and magnesium sulfate supplements and a device called SpringTMS or eNeura sTMS.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can be effective in treating headaches. A physician can determine the best medication for you. Frequent use of pain relievers can lead to side effects and may cause rebound headaches. Medications can be used for acute (abortive) or preventive (prophylactic) therapy. Abortive treatment is a quick way to ease the symptoms of an active headache, while preventive therapy reduces how often and how severe your migraines are.
Some over-the-counter medications are effective for pain relief, including ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen. If these don’t help, a doctor can prescribe stronger medications. A doctor can also recommend a combination of drugs that is more effective than a single medication; for example, a combination of acetaminophen and aspirin.
Several herbal and “homeopathic” remedies are advertised to treat headaches, but their effectiveness is questionable. In addition, they can sometimes be dangerous to take in some people, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure.
There are a number of new medications that can be effective for migraine prevention, but they’re only available with a doctor’s prescription. Some of these are referred to as “triptans” and include rizatriptan, almotriptan and erenumab. They all have some side effects, and erenumab is not approved for use in pregnant women.
Many headache patients can improve their condition with a few simple lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods and beverages that can trigger headaches. Stress reduction techniques can also help. Some examples of these techniques include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and self-hypnosis. There are also group skill-building activities that help you learn to cope with your headaches.
If medications aren’t helping, it may be time to see a specialist. Ask your primary care provider for a referral to a provider trained in evaluating and treating headaches, called a neurologist. Before your appointment, write down a description of your symptoms, including when they occur and how long they last. You should also record your daily routine, including any vitamins or supplements you take, as this will help your doctor figure out what’s causing your headaches. You can also keep a headache diary, writing down the details of each episode of head pain.
A non-medication approach, biofeedback trains people to control bodily responses, such as heart rate and hand temperature. It can help decrease the frequency of headaches and their intensity and duration. It also helps decrease the amount of medication required to treat them.
Biofeedback works through the practice of visualization and relaxation techniques. It requires a trained therapist and specialized equipment, which makes it less accessible than other headache therapy treatments. Research shows that biofeedback can be effective for both migraine and tension-type headaches, though it’s not a cure for these conditions. It’s a treatment that works best for those who practice it on a daily basis.
The two types of biofeedback used to treat headaches are thermal and electromyographic (EMG). Thermal biofeedback relies on the vascular theory of headaches, which states that head pain results from blood vessel constriction. This technique uses a finger thermometer to measure the hand temperature and allows the patient to learn how to relax, which causes their temperature to increase, which ultimately helps relieve the pain.
EMG biofeedback is more commonly used for tension-type headaches. It relies on electrodes to monitor skeletal muscle tension. It’s an effective preventive for these headaches and can be combined with the use of herbal remedies such as feverfew and butterbur, which are believed to reduce the severity of migraine attacks.
Behavioral therapy for migraine and tension-type headaches can be used to identify triggers, such as food, sleep, movement/postural habits, stressors and hydration. It’s been shown to be especially helpful in preventing episodic migraine and reducing the intensity, frequency and duration of cluster headaches.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychotherapy treatment that has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. It has also been shown to improve the quality of life of people with headaches. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs. This technique is useful for treating mental health disorders and can be used in conjunction with medications. It is also used in the management of various psychogenic neurological conditions. It is a popular form of treatment for people with chronic headaches, especially migraines.
The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of a migraine-specific integrated cognitive-behavioral treatment program (miCBT) compared with RLX and a waiting-list control group in a three-armed randomized controlled trial. Participants were assigned to one of the treatments for a period of 12 weeks, after which they underwent post-treatment assessments at 4 and 12-months. The treatment program included the following components: education, challenging dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs, and relaxation. It also involved the use of daily diaries to record headaches, triggers and medication consumption. The trial was designed using a functional model, which seeks to understand the controlling variables that determine head pain and how they affect the quality of life.
A sample of 120 adults with migraine or tension-type headache was recruited for the study. They had to have at least six headache days a month and a stable pattern of symptoms for 12 months. In addition to the MIDAS score, assessment was done for anxiety and depression, locus of control, and self-efficacy. The results showed that miCBT was more effective than RLX and a waiting-list.
The MIDAS score significantly improved in the miCBT group, but not in the education or RLX groups. The HMSE-G-SF score was also significantly higher in the miCBT group, but not the education or RLX groups. The results suggest that the integrated cognitive-behavioral treatment program was more effective than education or RLX in reducing MIDAS scores and disability and improving the quality of life. The results also show that the HMSE-G-SF is a reliable and valid measure of self-efficacy in the management of migraines.
Although the majority of headaches are harmless and resolve on their own, some are chronic daily or can interfere with work, school, family or social activities. In these cases, the person may seek professional help to address the emotional responses to living with headache pain and learn how to manage the pain. Counseling can be a useful form of headache therapy, especially when it is combined with pharmacotherapy.
Cognitive behavior therapy is a commonly used psychological treatment for headache disorders, particularly migraine and tension-type headache. The use of relaxation training, biofeedback, and hypnotherapy in conjunction with CBT has also shown to be effective. Psychological treatment has been shown to improve quality of life in headache patients. It has also been shown to reduce the frequency and duration of headaches, decrease the need for medication, and reduce the number of days that the person is disabled by a headache.
In addition to the above therapies, physical therapy is another common way to treat headaches. A physical therapist can provide an examination of the head, face and neck to determine the cause of the headache and develop an appropriate treatment plan. This type of headache therapy has been shown to increase the ease of movement in the neck and reduce the intensity and duration of headaches.
Other forms of headache therapy include massage, biofeedback and acupuncture. These are usually offered in a professional setting and may require specialized equipment. Some of these treatments have been shown to be effective in reducing the severity and frequency of headaches, especially in those who suffer from chronic migraines and tension-type headaches.
Other non-pharmacotherapeutic techniques that are often recommended to patients who have not responded to pharmacological treatments include meditation, mindfulness and tai chi. These are a great option for people who want to avoid the side effects of medications or are unable to take them due to health restrictions, such as pregnancy or allergies. Patients can also try self-care and home remedies to relieve their headaches. For example, massaging the pressure point found in the “V” between the thumb and forefinger can significantly reduce migraine and tension-type headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic.