Headache Treatments: Beyond The Pharmacy

//Headache Treatments: Beyond The Pharmacy

Headache Treatments: Beyond The Pharmacy

Many people reach automatically for over-the-counter medicines for their occasional headaches, but what types of treatments are available for people who experience migraine pain or more frequent headaches that interfere with everyday life? There are prescription medications available, but there are also other headache treatments that can be used to prevent and treat moderate to severe pain; treatments that do not involve medication.

Chiropractic care, massage, and manipulation of the limbs can be some of the most effective ways headache treatments.

Properly aligning the spine can help release any constriction in the nerves and relieve tension. Similarly, massage and manipulation of the limbs release stress and tension that may be causing pain. These headache treatments are noninvasive and do not require any medications or surgical procedures (either in- or out-patient).

Nerve blocks can also be very effective in treating cluster or migraine headache pain. With this treatment, very thin needles are inserted in different areas, depending on the type of block, and an anesthetic is delivered into the nerves, blocking pain signals. This treatment can be effective in relieving pain for several weeks.

For patients who do not respond to a nerve block, doctors will sometimes utilize radiofrequency ablation (RFA). In this procedure, a thin probe delivers radiofrequency waves that disrupt the signals of pain to the brain. Spinal cord stimulation is another option that uses a similar type of system, except that wires are implanted along the spine near the nerves that are causing the pain. These wires deliver a mild electrical shock that also disrupts the pain signals to the brain. They have been proven to be effective at controlling migraine pain.

Other headache treatments can include acupuncture and biofeedback.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that involves the insertion of multiple, hair-thin needles into pressure points of the body. These needles may be moved gently or stimulated with a mild electrical current to enhance their effects. Acupuncture has been shown to release endorphins in the body and stimulate the central nervous system into repressing pain signals.

Biofeedback takes measurements of everything from a patient’s heart and respiration rate to the amount of sweat on their skin. Physicians take this information and help patients cultivate relaxation techniques to deal with stress, tension, and pain. Sessions are initially held in an office setting, but eventually patients learn to regulate their biorhythms and can relax themselves wherever they are.

Headaches can be complicated to treat, but there are many different approaches beyond over-the-counter and prescription medications. What headache treatments have you tried, and how did they work?

Image by Thunderchild7 via Flickr

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