Biofeedback is a type of relaxation technique designed to help those suffering with migraines learn stress-reduction skills through feedback about skin temperature, muscle tension, vital signs and brain waves. Electrodes (small metal sensors) are attached to your skin in order to measure the skin temperature and/or muscle tension. The information received is used to measure the stress response during relaxation and the changes that occur in the blood flow in the brain during a migraine attack. With appropriate biofeedback training, someone who is experiencing a migraine can influence the blood flow to the brain and ultimately manage the pain.
Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese technique, uses the insertion of fine needles into the pressure points of the body. Acupuncture is thought to help migraines by stimulating your body’s ability to overcome conditions and illnesses by correcting energy imbalances. When the energy that circulates through the meridians in your body, known as the Chi, is disrupted, it causes an imbalance of energy, resulting in various pains, including migraines. Acupuncture is also believed to stimulate the brain, which may cause the release of endorphin’s (pain-reducing opioid chemicals).
Massage is a great way to relieve tension and reduce stress, which may trigger a migraine. It is extremely effective in reducing the tightness of your tender muscles, such as those in your shoulders, back of the head and neck. It also helps to increase the blood flow to these areas, which may relieve tension and reduce or prevent a migraine.
Chiropractic techniques approach the cause and relief of migraine pain through spinal manipulation, massage and adjustment of the soft tissue and joints. Chiropractic methods are often used for those who experience migraines as a result of a head or neck injury as opposed to those who experience routine migraines as a result of a health condition or an inappropriate diet.
Feverfew leaf contains parthenolide (a plant-related chemical) that is thought to significantly reduce the symptoms associated with a migraine. Feverfew, which is typically taken in a capsule form, provides benefits such as relief from nausea and vomiting, relief of dizziness, lessens nerve and brain pressure and provides a restful sleep. A side-effect of feverfew is prolonged bleeding, so it is essential that it not be taken with NSAIDS, steroids, or anticoagulants.
Magnesium is a dietary supplement typically taken as a combination magnesium/calcium supplement. A magnesium supplement may be recommended for the prevention and relief of migraines, if there is a magnesium deficiency in the brain, which may be a contributor to the migraines.
TENS (transcutaneous nerve stimulation) is similar to the effects of acupuncture and/or Botox (sometimes used to treat migraines). Sensors are attached to the neck, back and/or head, electrical impulses are then delivered to the nerves, which may help to relieve the tightness, stress and tension that accompanies a migraine.
Certain foods, such as citrus fruits, chocolate, red wine and/or aged cheese may contribute to migraines in certain people. Those who are have a diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids may also experience diet related migraines. The most beneficial way to determine if diet is related to migraines is to keep a food diary. The diary should include all foods and beverages you consume, at what time and whether or not you experienced a migraine. The diary will help to determine which foods, if any may be responsible for the onset of migraines.
Many headaches respond well to heat, but if you have a migraine, it is best to avoid heat as it may worsen the migraine. However, migraines typically respond well to cold packs. Placing a cold pack or a cold cloth over your forehead and/or on the back of the neck, just below your head, will help to sooth the pain.
Physically therapy is typically not recommended until an x-ray has been taken of the neck and upper spine to determine if the cause of the migraine is due to an injury in the spine or neck. Physical therapy is not typically recommended if the migraines are a side effect of disk disease or an unstable neck. However, if the migraines are a result of arthritis in the neck, physical therapy may beneficial in relieving the pain.
Sleep & Relaxation
Migraines are often triggered by stress, oversleeping and/or sleep deprivation. It is common for those who are sleep deprived to consume stimulates, such as coffee, which will help to relieve the pain of a migraine for a short-term. However, caffeine or other stimulants may increase the pain associated with a migraine in the long run by interrupting sleep. Relation techniques, routine sleeping times and a quiet sleeping space may help to prevent the onset of migraines and may help to relieve the pain after a migraine as started. It is helpful to learn deep breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques to ensure you are getting a solid, restful sleep.
One of the most common approaches in herbal medicine is aromatherapy. The use of essential oils, whether by applying to the skin or smelling it, has been shown to promote relaxation and relieve stress, in turn preventing or relieving a migraine. Anecdotal studies have shown that the most common essential oils for the relieve of migraines include ginger, lavender, and peppermint oil. Small amounts of these oils can be massaged into the temples to relieve migraine pain. When peppermint oil is smelled, it may also help relieve the nausea that often accompanies a migraine. Although these alternative treatments have been shown to relieve or prevent migraines, it is important to keep in mind that everyone experiences pain differently, so what works for one person may not necessarily work for you. It is also recommended that you eat a well-balanced diet and avoid fasting or skipping meals, which may trigger a migraine. It is also important to talk with your doctor before you start a new diet or experiment with supplements, vitamins or herbs, especially if you are currently taking prescription medications for your migraines and/or other medical conditions.