It is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans are affected by severe headaches and/or migraines on a regular basis. Migraines alone affect approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population and result in $1 billion a year in medical costs. However, there are ways to alleviate and treat these attacks. Here are some secrets to migraine headache relief.
1. Acupuncture–This treatment option involves the use of thin needles that are inserted under the skin to realign the body’s “qi” or energy flow. This form of therapy can be expensive with treatments ranging from $60 to $120 per session. Several studies have found acupuncture could be as beneficial in preventing acute migraines as drug treatments and with fewer adverse side effects. Moreover, evidence also suggests that acupuncture could help people with frequent chronic or frequent tension and/or stress-related headaches.
2. Conventional Pain Relief–Many headache sufferers will resort to conventional pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g. Motrin, Aleve, etc.), especially in the case of transient or infrequent headache attacks. Meanwhile, migraine sufferers may take antidepressants or beta blockers prescribed by a doctor to prevent headaches and/or triptans, such as Imitrex or Relpax, once headache symptoms start to curtail or shorten the intensity and duration of the attack.
3. Stretching–Many stretches can be beneficial in alleviating muscle tension that often leads to pain. When a person feels a headache attack coming on, try a few stretching exercises to curtail the attack or simply add them to an existing workout routine. Neck exercises and shoulder shrugs are especially effective in keeping those muscles limber and trigger points calm.
4. Biofeedback–This headache relief technique uses electronic sensors to monitor body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and skin temperature. Data is relayed to the patient via audio responses or computer images. The purpose of this behavior-based treatment is to teach people how to control their bodily responses in order to prevent headache attacks.
5. Massage–This short-term treatment approach involves rubbing the affected and associated areas (e.g. massaging the temples, back, neck, shoulders, or head). It has been proven effective but is a temporary fix. Massage is a form of treatment which requires repeat applications and weekly sessions over an extended period of time.
6. Yoga–This secret to relieving migraine headaches combines meditation, breathing exercises, and physical posturing to balance the body, mind, and spirit, as well as promote relaxation and healing. This treatment option varies in intensity and application. There are classes held at the YMCA, gyms, fitness centers, yoga studios, or a variety of home-based DVDs available. For those with injuries or disabilities, do not fear–there are many adaptive yoga exercises and programs available.
7. Botox–This treatment method involves injections that are now approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic headache sufferers. However, this treatment approach is quite expensive, with a price tag of $350 per injection site, and requires multiple sessions for efficacy. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of botox for chronic headache sufferers who have failed to get effective relief from other methods.
8. Hot and/or Cold Compresses–This is a treatment approach that involves little fuss and can be applicable to any pain sufferer. If muscle tightness is involved, heat is generally recommended. For headaches, cold compresses can be effective.
9. Relaxation Exercises–This treatment approach could involve a combination of relaxation methods such as massage, yoga, tai chi, etc. Moreover, headache sufferers can also use mental imagery, visualization, relaxation, and/or deep breathing techniques to relax and relieve tension, which could trigger a headache or migraine attacks.
10. Limit Caffeine Consumption–This secret to relieving migraine headaches involves a more natural approach. If a person consumes large quantities of caffeine-fueled beverages, they might be prone to withdrawal headaches, which can stimulate the brain’s migraine center and result in severe headaches or migraines. Some people could be more vulnerable to these attacks than others. If an individual believes that caffeine could be a trigger, they should try limiting their intake to 200 mg or one 8-ounce cup of coffee a day.
There are many treatment options for the 50 million Americans who are affected by severe headaches and/or migraines on a regular basis. With 10 percent of the U.S. population and $1 billion a year in medical costs from migraine sufferers alone, exploring ways to alleviate and treat these attacks is essential. There are many potential secrets to relieving migraine headaches.
Written and Edited By Leigh Haugh
Health–13 Ways to Fight Headache Pain
WebMD–Migraines & Headaches Health Center
Prevention–16 Highly Effective Migraine Solutions
Everyday Health–Home Remedies for Headache Treatment