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Non-Medicinal Headache Treatments

  • Self-administered, a cold or ice pack held against the head seems to help many suffers. On the other hand, some patients say the use of warmth helps them more. The best advice we can offer is to experiment.
  • Lying quietly in a dark room can also be beneficial. Some patients find a few hours sleep is all they need and they will awaken headache-free.
  • Massaging the temples or the head may lessen the pain.
  • Tying a cloth tightly around the head works for some. 
  • Major lifestyle changes, such as giving up ones job, changing careers or moving to another climate maybe appealing but the effect on headache is disappointing. 
    Physical treatments like physical therapy have not helped many of our patients with primary headaches. 
  • Biofeedback is a technique by which patients learn to control certain bodily functions that are typically not under conscious control. Children seem to be especially good at learning from biofeedback. 
  • Acupuncture for headache is sometimes used but requires more study before its place in treatment is established. Nonetheless, there are numerous anecdotal reports about its effectiveness and both our clinicians and patients have noted effectiveness. The Wasser intends to carry out research studies on the role of acupuncture and headache.   
  • Some practitioners advocate the use of repeated nerve blocks to the head and neck for the treatment of headache. We are not yet convinced about the evidence for the effectiveness of this kind of treatment unless done in a strictly controlled manner.
  • The medical literature is more favorable to the use of Botox injections (Botulinum a toxin) for migraine and muscle pain, a treatment that we use and are studying its effectiveness.
  • Aromatherapy may not be so far-fetched. Certain odours can trigger headaches and the sense of smell is related to many emotional responses. Application of peppermint extract raises the pain threshold, and has relaxing effects. Eucalyptus induces calming and relaxation.