Biofeedback for Migraines and Headaches
Biofeedback is a technique that can help a headache sufferer learn stress-reduction skills by providing information (feedback) about muscle tension, skin temperature, brain waves, and other vital signs. Small metal sensors, called electrodes, are attached to the skin and measure the amount of muscle tension or the skin temperature. This information is displayed as numbers, electrical waves, or sounds on a screen. For example, a stress response reduces skin temperature because of constriction of blood vessels, while a relaxation response results in dilated blood vessels and warm skin.
The results of several studies show changes in the blood flow in the brain during migraine attacks and in the pain-free periods in between. Using biofeedback training, a person can influence the blood flow to the brain and better manage a headache.
Most studies on biofeedback indicate that it reduces the frequency and duration of headaches, both in children and adults. In general, the effects of biofeedback appear to be comparable to many drugs used for chronic headaches, and can be recommended as early treatment for recurrent migraines.
Neurofeedback for Migraines and Headaches
Neurofeedback, biofeedback specifically for the brain, has been shown assist in the treatment of headache disorders by normalizing brainwave activity in areas of the brain that are producing waveforms that are producing either too much or not enough of certain EEG waveform frequencies. This information is initialy gathered from a Quantitative Electroencephaolography (QEEG). Neurotherapy sessions reward areas of the brain for producing healthier types of brain activity, specific to the client's QEEG, and overtime, the normalization of these brainwave freqencies assist with symptom improvment. In a recent study, the majority (54%) of 71 participants experienced complete cessation of their migraines, and many others (39%) experienced a reduction in migraine frequency of greater than 50%. Four percent experienced a decrease in headache frequency of < 50%. Only one patient did not experience a reduction in headache frequency. The control group of subjects who chose to continue drug therapy as opposed to neurofeedback experienced no change in headache frequency (68%), a reduction of less than 50% (20%), or a reduction greater than 50% (8%). QEEG-guided neurofeedback appears to be dramatically effective in abolishing or significantly reducing headache frequency in patients with recurrent migraine.