Kids & Teens Get Migraine Relief from Biofeedback, Relaxation Training

Biofeedback, relaxation techniques and stress reduction decreased the migraine frequency and migraine-related disability of children and adolescents in a new study. In the study, these treatments, which are all forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), were added to the treatment regimen of chronic migraine patients who were already taking amitriptyline for prevention. While CBT is often only recommended after medications prove ineffective, it is beneficial as a first-line treatment when combined with medication, according to lead researcher Scott Powers, Ph.D.

The study results are quite striking. Of the 135 participants, who ranged from 10 to 17 years old, 64 had 10 sessions of CBT and 71 attended 10 sessions of headache education. In a follow-up one year later, 86% who received CBT had a 50% or greater reduction in headache days and 88% had a score of mild to no disability on the pediatric version of the MIDAS questionnaire.

Unfortunately, teenagers’ resistance to behavioral therapy and insurance coverage issues could make it difficult to incorporate CBT into a headache management practice. American Headache Society President Lawrence Newman, M.D., said “While this is very good news as a study finding, translating this into clinical practice in treating young people with chronic migraine is an enormous challenge. Treatment specialists will need to find ways to overcome adolescent resistance to behavioral therapy and insurance coverage issues for add-on treatment.”

This study was presented at the American Headache Society’s 56th Annual Scientific Meeting in June.

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