December 12, 2017
4 Nondrug Options for Headaches

4 Nondrug Options for Headaches

by Berkeley Wellness  

Acupuncture. Several research reviews have found that acupuncture can be at least as effective as medication for the prevention of migraine, tension, or cluster headaches, with few side effects. The most recent study showing that acupuncture can help reduce migraine recurrence appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine in early 2017.

Biofeedback. This involves being hooked up to a device that provides readings on a physiological variable con­nected with headache pain— skin temperature, for instance, which is related to contraction of blood vessels. The feedback allows you to gain some control over the variable, decrease muscle tension, and reduce anxiety, all of which may contribute to pain relief.

Electrical or magnetic stimulation. In 2014 the FDA allowed the marketing of two prescription-only devices for migraines, which are backed by small clinical trials. Cefaly, a small battery-powered device worn on the forehead, applies an electric current to the skin and underlying tissues to stimu­late the trigeminal nerve, which is associated with migraines. It is supposed to be worn once a day for 20 minutes to help prevent migraines. A second device, SpringTMS, applies magnetic stimulation to the back of the head; it is supposed to be used when you feel a migraine coming on.

Special tinted glasses. For many migraine sufferers, bright light and other visual stimuli can bring on or worsen headaches. A few studies suggest that tinted lenses can be a way to get relief from such headaches. When cus­tomized to an individual’s color sensitivity, they are called precision tinted eyewear. An eye care professional may be able to determine if visual triggers are a prob­lem and suggest lenses that may help. The simplest option is to experiment with sun­glasses of different hues that are light enough to let you see well indoors.

Also see 5 Dietary Supplements for Headaches.

Originally published November 2016. Updated February 2017.