Children who frequently suffer from headache may benefit from biofeedback therapy, which a recent study showed decreased pain and headache frequency. Biofeedback is a technique in which people attempt to control some bodily processes that normally occur involuntarily, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and skin temperature.  For this study, researchers evaluated 132 youth, ages 8 to 18, who attended two or more biofeedback sessions between 2004 and 2008; the median number of sessions was seven. Between the first and last visit, headache frequency dropped from 3.5 to 2 headache days per month, and the median severity of pain decreased from 6.5 to 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

The first controlled study to assess the combination of preventive drugs and behavioral techniques for hard-to-treat migraines found that using the techniques together leads to better outcomes. The study enrolled 232 people with frequent headaches that weren't controlled by acute medicines. They were randomly assigned to receive preventive medications (a beta blocker), behavioral management, both or neither. After 16 months of follow up, the combined approach offered significant improvement in number of attacks, headache days and quality of life, compared to modest improvement in those who used only one of the techniques.

I have suffered migraine headaches with severe neck pain for 36 years. I started getting headaches at age 12, and I’ve been diagnosed with migraine, cluster, tension and rebound headaches. I have tried diet, biofeedback, meditation, massage, chiropractic care, Reiki, and even Botox, which did help the headaches in the back of my neck, but insurance does not pay for the injections, and they are very expensive. I have also tried every medication there is for the last 36 years. I am now on Fiorocet, Maxalt, Imitrex, Ultram and Vicodin. Imitrex works the best for the migraine, but you can only take so many each month, and the Fioricet helps the tension headaches, but now I’m taking them daily. When I do get rid of the headache it always seems to come right back before I go to sleep. I cannot sleep due to the pain; I have to take Ambien daily to get any sleep. I had to give up my career due to this excruciating nightmare pain.

Pregnancy can take its toll on a woman’s body, but reports show that migraine pain before childbirth is unlikely. According to NHF statistics, approximately 80% of women who have migraine stop having migraine attacks from the end of the third month of pregnancy until delivery because of hormonal stability. Though 20% of women still suffer from migraine pain during pregnancy, medication use during this time is discouraged due to potential harm to the fetus. Women typically experience migraine during the first trimester of pregnancy, when the fetus is most susceptible to birth defects that may be caused by medications.  All headache medication should be avoided, but if it is absolutely necessary, patients should consult their healthcare providers.

Tension-type headache is a nonspecific headache, which is not vascular or migrainous, and is not related to organic disease. The most common form of headache, it may be related to muscle tightening in the back of the neck and/or scalp. There are two general classifications of tension-type headache: episodic and chronic, differentiated by frequency and severity of symptoms. Both are characterized as dull, aching and non-pulsating pain and affect both sides of the head.

More than 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraine, with women being affected three times more often than men. This vascular headache is most commonly experienced between the ages of 15 and 55, and 70% to 80% of sufferers have a family history of migraine. Less than half of all migraine sufferers have received a diagnosis of migraine from their healthcare provider. Migraine is often misdiagnosed as sinus headache or tension-type headache. Many factors can trigger migraine attacks, such as alteration of sleep-wake cycle; missing or delaying a meal; medications that cause a swelling of the blood vessels; daily or near daily use of medications designed for relieving headache attacks; bright lights, sunlight, fluorescent lights, TV and movie viewing; certain foods; and excessive noise. Stress and/or underlying depression are important trigger factors that can be diagnosed and treated adequately.