In the United States alone, 47 million people have experienced a debilitating headache in the past three months. Migraines affect just under 10% of the population and cost the country billions of dollars in medical expenses every single year.
The first line of defense when it comes to targeting the pain of a migraine headache is over-the-counter medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used by a lot of people and can offer migraine relief. Other commonly prescribed medication include beta blockers and antidepressants, which interfere with the body’s pain signals. Triptans are another medicated option to reduce the pain of migraines.
Still, in some cases, headaches persist. Many people turn to alternative therapies and treatments in order to make symptoms bearable. Here are a few of the most common alternative treatments for migraine headaches.
Biofeedback is a unique treatment method that makes use of sensors which monitor bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. This data is displayed as sounds or images that the patient can see. The goal is to help the patient learn to release tension. Biofeedback has potential to be an effective form of treatment for tension headaches and migraines.
Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that has been shown to be effective in treating migraines. Tiny needles are inserted directly under the skin. These needles help to target the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. A one-hour acupuncture session with a certified acupuncturist can cost anywhere fore $60-120.
Massaging your temples, neck, or head can provide temporary relief from a migraine headache. Of course, the relief is only temporary. Once the massage ends, the headache is still there. Studies have shown that having six massage sessions per week can help to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches and improve sleep quality.
Stretches can help to relieve muscle tension associated with migraine headaches. You can add them to your regular workout or go through them when you start to feel like you’re about to get a headache. Stretch your neck by looking in every direction: left, right, up, and down. Shrug your shoulders and rotate your shoulders in every direction. You should stretch for a minimum of 20 minutes per day.
Physical activity can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches. Speed walking, biking, swimming, or jogging can all help, but you must do so on a regular basis. Doctors recommend at least a half an hour of moderate exercise per day, five days per week.
Meditation is a relaxation technique that can help you to focus your attention and achieve mental stillness, perhaps even when you’re experiencing pain. Researchers are currently in the process of studying how meditation can improve quality of life for people who suffer from migraines, as the effects are currently unclear. One study found that spiritual meditation reduced the frequency of headaches and increased pain tolerance better than non-spiritual meditation.