Simple Lifestyle Changes May Ease Chronic Headache
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There are some other simple techniques that may stop the pain, Silberstein
tells WebMD. "Eating regular meals, getting plenty of exercise, and
learning how to manage stress are some other keys to prevention," he says.
And "by all means, limit your intake of MSG, caffeine, and alcohol." He
also notes that many patients have found relief after mastering muscle
relaxation through biofeedback.
A study led by Ninan Matthew, MD, a clinical professor of neurology at the
University of Texas, found that four months of treatment involving the types of
methods suggested by Silberstein could significantly decrease the symptoms of
In Ninan's study of more than 200 patients, the initial treatment included
detoxification from pain medication, plus intravenous therapy with a drug
called dihydroergotamine (DHE). It's not yet known how DHE and detoxification
work, but they're thought to reset the brain for normal functioning. Later, the
study participants were given behavioral and dietary counseling, as well as
biofeedback and physical therapy.
The researchers, at the Houston Headache Clinic, measured the patients'
responses using a questionnaire called the Migraine Disability Assessment Tool
"Disability was strongly correlated with headache frequency, but after
four months of treatment, MIDAS scores decreased significantly," says
Mathew, who also is past president of the International Headache Society.
- Chronic daily headache (CDH) is defined as having tension or migraine
headaches at least 15 days per month for at least six months.
- Other conditions associated with CHD are prior headaches, family history of
headaches, head injury, and fibromyalgia.
- Exercising, avoiding certain foods, and, sometimes, stopping certain
medications, are all ways to help prevent chronic headaches.