Behavioral Treatment for Migraine Headaches

A recently study titled Direct Costs of Preventive Headache Treatments: Comparison of Behavioral and Pharmacologic Approaches appearing in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 51 (6): 985 -991, June 2011, and written by Allison M. Shafer et al., finds that treating chronic migraines using inexpensive prophylactic medicines such as beta-blockers or tricyclic antidepressants and behavioral approaches such as relaxation training, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and stress management are a low cost and effective treatment option particularly after 1 year of treatment. The authors used a cost minimization analysis and found that after 1 year, the cost of minimal-contact behavioral treatment was cheaper than the least expensive headache treatment medications. Minimal-contact or home based intervention is when a patient sees a therapist for around 3 or 4 visits and  largely practices the behavioral techniques at home through the use of … Read more

Surgical Treatment of Migraine Headaches

A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery shows that trigger site surgery may aid in reducing or even eliminating migraine headaches. 100 patients in a study underwent injection of botulinum toxin A (Botox) into up to 4 potential trigger sites. If a trigger site was identified to be effective than surgery was performed in that trigger area in order to decompress nerves and remove muscles. 71 of 79 patients that were evaluated over a 5 year period were observed to have improvement. This meant they had less mean migraine intensity and or less mean migraine duration. 20 of 69 patients (29.0%) reported elimination of migraines and 41 of 69 patients (59.4%) experience a significant decrease. Surgery is not without risk and neither is injection of botulinum toxin A.  2 patients had hypersensitivity, 2 patients had hyposensitivity, and 2 patients … Read more

Childhood Experiences Impact Headache Frequency and Cardiovascular Disease

Recent research by Gretchen E. Tietjen, MD, of the University of Toledo College Of Medicine, and her colleagues have shown that childhood experiences have an impact on headache frequency and cardiovascular disease experienced once these children reach adulthood. Specifically Dr Tietjan and her researchers found children who experience maltreatment such as physical abuse, emotional and/or sexual abuse, and/or physical and/or emotional neglect, are more likely to experience frequent headaches as adults. In another study, Dr Tietjan and her researchers found that if migraine suffers’ experienced adverse experiences (as previously mentioned) as children than they were more likely to experience cardiovascular health problems as adults. “It is clear…that early adverse experiences influence a migraine sufferers’ cardiovascular health in adulthood,” said Dr. Tietjen. “Earlier studies have linked childhood maltreatment to frequent headaches and migraine,” said David Dodick, M.D., president of the AHS. … Read more

Sleep Deprivation and the Biological Mechanisms of Chronic Migraine Headache

Scientists from the Missouri State University’s Center for Biomedical & Life Sciences have found new research to suggest sleep deprivation leads to changes in the levels of key proteins that facilitate events involved in the underlying pathology of migraine. “Previous clinical data support a relationship between sleep quality and migraine,” said Paul L. Dunham, Ph.D. “so we used an established model of sleep deprivation to measure levels of proteins that lower the activation threshold of peripheral and central nerves involved in pain transmission during migraine. We found that REM sleep deprivation caused increased expression of the proteins p38, PKA, and P2X3, which are known to play an important role in initiating and sustaining chronic pain.” “So little is known about the biological mechanisms that underlie how certain factors trigger a migraine attack,” said David Dodick, M.D., “This is important work … Read more

Headache Causes Difficulty Tuning out Visuals

A recent study from researchers from Scotland’s Glasgow Caledonian University has come out with implications for headache sufferers. The research suggests migraine sufferers even when they do not have a headache may process visual cues better in an environment with few visual distractions. The researchers asked migraine sufferers to pick out a small disk of light with visual noise was present which severed as a visual distraction. Without the visual noise, people prone to migraine could identify the light disk about as well as the control group. When the noise was added, migraine sufferers performed significantly worse. The study demonstrated migraine sufferers with auras were the actually the most affected by the addition of visual noise. This research has practical implications for those who suffer from headache and migraine. It may thus be best to avoid environments with a lot … Read more