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Kids With Migraines: Drugs Not the Only Option

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Using relaxation training and medication, Scott W. Powers, PhD, and his team at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio treated 10 girls and 10 boys who suffered regularly from migraine headaches. The relaxation program included things like instructions on deep breathing and muscle relaxation. It was assisted by a biofeedback technique that involved regular monitoring of the children's body temperature. The children were told to practice these techniques at home with the help of an audiotape at least three times a week and at the start of a headache.

Using the relaxation techniques they were taught, the children were able to increase their body temperature, as measured by the biofeedback equipment.

More importantly, when the kids returned to the clinic for follow-up about five months later, their average headache was less severe and had decreased, according to measurements taken by doctors. The frequency and duration of their headaches also decreased on average, from about 13 days to 10 a month in frequency and from seven hours to five in duration.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the parents -- 85% -- reported their children were doing better with this therapy.

Dawn Marcus, MD, a headache expert from the University of Pittsburgh's department of anesthesiology, agrees with Newman that this is good news for both parents and kids but needs to be confirmed in a larger study. In particular, Marcus says, a group of children using biofeedback should be compared with a group not using the technique in order to determine whether the biofeedback group fares better.

The study was published in the January issue of the medical journal Neurology.

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