Other Treatments for Headache

The different types of headache respond to different treatments. Consult your doctor before trying a remedy on your own. Other treatment options that may help ease the pain of your headaches include the following:

Biofeedback

Biofeedback teaches people how to control bodily functions they normally do not think about. Biofeedback may help you decrease the number and severity of headaches. During a biofeedback session, a therapist will guide you to relax certain muscles or control breathing, while an electronic device shows your body’s response.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxing the muscles can help prevent and decrease the severity of tension and some other headaches.

Relaxation techniques may include deep breathing, visualizing being in a different place, or clearing the mind of any thoughts. A mental health professional can teach you how to perform different relaxation techniques.

Oxygen Therapy

Breathing 100% oxygen for 10-15 minutes often helps relieve cluster headache pain. The oxygen appears to decrease blood flow to the affected area of the brain. People under age 50 who have episodic cluster headaches seem to benefit most from oxygen therapy.

Note: Oxygen therapy is expensive and has associated health risks. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of this therapy.

Counseling

Mental health counseling can help you develop new coping skills, manage stress, and change your attitude, which often results in fewer tension headaches.

Other Treatments

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if the following occur:

  • Your headaches are getting worse
  • You develop any side effects to treatment

References

Biofeedback. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/education/Headache_Topic_Sheets/Biofeedback. Accessed September 12, 2008.

Cluster headache. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=114. Updated October 2007. Accessed September 13, 2008.

Fernandez-de-Las-Penas C, Alonso-Blanco C, Cuadrado ML, et al. Are manual therapies effective in reducing pain from tension-type headache? A systematic review. Clin J Pain. 2006;22:278-285

Gupta VK. Botulinum toxin-a treatment for migraine? A systematic review. Pain Med. 2006;7:386-394.

Migraine headache. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=114. Updated August 2008. Accessed September 13, 2008.

Streng A, Linde K, Hoppe A, et al. Effectiveness and tolerability of acupuncture compared with metoprolol in migraine prophylaxis. Headache. 2006;46:1492-502.

Tension headache. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=114. Updated August 2008. Accessed September 13, 2008.

Trautmann E, Lackschewita H, Kroner-Herwig B. Psychological treatment of recurrent headache in children and adolescents—a meta-analysis. Cephalalgia . 2006;26:1411-1426.



Last reviewed July 2008 by Rimas Lukas, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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