Non-Drug Treatments and Lifestyle Changes
There are several ways to prevent migraine attacks. You should first try a healthy diet, the right amount of sleep, and non-drug approaches (such as biofeedback) for prevention.
Behavioral techniques that reduce stress and empower the patient may help some people with migraines. They generally include:
- Biofeedback therapy
- Relaxation techniques
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Behavioral methods may help counteract the tendency for muscle contraction and uneven blood flow associated with some headaches. They may be particularly beneficial for children, adolescents, pregnant and nursing women, and anyone who cannot take most migraine medications. Studies generally find that these techniques work best when used in combination with medications.
Biofeedback. Many studies have demonstrated that biofeedback is effective for reducing migraine headache frequency. Biofeedback training teaches the patient to monitor and modify physical responses, such as muscle tension, using special instruments for feedback.
Relaxation Therapy. Relaxation therapy techniques include relaxation response, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and deep breathing. Muscle relaxation techniques are simple and easy to learn, and can be effective. Some patients may also find that relaxation techniques combined with applying a cold compress to the forehead may help provide some pain relief during attacks. Some commercially available products use a pad containing a gel that cools the skin for several hours.
Review Date: 11/04/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.