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Other Treatments for Headache

There are ways to treat each type of headache. Talk with your doctor before you try one. Other treatments are:

Biofeedback

Biofeedback teaches you how to control things the body does on its own. It may help you get fewer headaches and make them less painful. A therapist will guide you to relax certain muscles or control breathing. At the same time, an electronic device shows your body’s response.

Relaxation

Relaxing the muscles can help you have fewer headaches from tension.
Relaxation methods are deep breathing, imagining being in a safe place, or clearing the mind of thoughts. A therapist can teach you how to do these methods.

Acupuncture

A trained specialist places small needles into the skin in specific places to ease pain.

Massage

Massage has been used to ease headaches.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS stimulates the nerves to put off migraines.

Oxygen

Breathing 100% oxygen for 10 to 15 minutes often helps ease cluster headache pain. It appears to lower blood flow to the part of the brain that is having problems.

Counseling

Counseling can help you learn new coping skills, ease stress, and change your thought pattern. This often means fewer tension headaches.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if:
  • Your headaches hurt more or happen more often
  • You have a new type of headache
  • You have new symptoms
  • You have side effects

References

Biofeedback. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/2007/10/25/biofeedback. Accessed January 16, 2019.
Cluster headache. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116292/Cluster-headache. Updated March 20, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2018.
Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. Cephalalgia. 2018 Jan;38(1):1-211.
Headache—frequently asked questions. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: https://headaches.org/about/frequently-asked-questions/. Accessed January 11, 2019.
Migraine in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114718/Migraine-in-adults. Updated November 8, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2018.
Migraine headache. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated December 2015. Accessed January 16, 2019.
NINDS headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Headache-Information-Page. Accessed December 19, 2018.
Tension headache. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated December 2015. Accessed January 16, 2019.
Tension-type headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114522/Tension-type-headache. Updated March 20, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2018.
12/16/2008 EBSCO DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114773/Headache: Jena S, Witt CM, Brinkhaus B, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Acupuncture in patients with headache. Cephalalgia. 2008;28(9):969-979.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2018
  • Update Date: 01/16/2019
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