Biofeedback migraine treatment - will it help you?

Biofeedback is a popular non-drug treatment for a number of conditions.  Biofeedback migraine treatment is a major example, as well as treatment for back pain, asthma, and stress.

According to The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, research has found biofeedback to be most helpful for:

  • Headache from migraine (adult and child)
  • Tension headache (adult and children)
  • Muscle related face pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chest pain from breathing patterns
  • Posture related pain

What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a way to learn how to control things that your body normally does automatically, such as heart rate, muscle tension, breathing patterns and skin temperature.  Often this is done using an electronic device that measures your success, but there are also non-technical methods.

A device may be hooked up to your skin to measure changes in your pulse or other patterns. With the help of your therapist, and these measurements, you will learn how to control these functions to some extent.

To the right you can see a biofeedback device. This is a personal version of some of the larger ones found in a practitioner's office.
Biofeedback migraine device
A biofeedback migraine treatment device

Migraine biofeedback treatment

There are various types of treatment that can be effective for migraine.  Learning to breath properly is very important, as well as learning to control muscle tension (Electromyography (EMG) is used for this purpose).  One of the treatments that has been specifically helpful in controlling headaches from migraine is thermal biofeedback.

In thermal biofeedback, the goal is to control the warming of your hands.  Believe it or not, this has helped people control their migraine symptoms, and because it's a non-drug treatment, it's great for children and pregnant and breast feeding moms.  (See Migraine and headache in childhood and adolescence by Annequin D, Tourniaire B, Massiou H)

You can use a device like the one above (click the picture for more) or search for a biofeedback practitioner in your area.

The best time to apply this treatment is during the early stages of migraine treatment.

Side effects?

There are no known dangers to biofeedback, although it's always good to consult a doctor.  Biofeedback treatment is one of the safest ways to combat headache.

Read here for more on biofeedback migraine treatment and other uses for migraine, at the Mayo Clinic.