woman receiving acupuncture
1 / 13


In this traditional Chinese practice, an expert  puts tiny needles into your body at specific points. Small studies suggest it can ease migraine pain and may also lower the number of headaches. You should still keep up with your other treatments, too.

Swipe to advance
monitoring biofeedback
2 / 13


Your body responds to pain with physical changes like a higher heart rate, tensed muscles, or cold hands. In biofeedback, sensors measure these shifts, then feed the information to you as a blinking light or a tone you can hear. You learn to respond to the feedback and relax your muscles. Some studies show it can often ease headache pain and how often you get migraines.

Swipe to advance
woman massaging man
3 / 13


Early research shows massage may lower the number of headaches in some people. It doesn't help with pain once a migraine starts. Massage can also ease stress, a common headache trigger.

Swipe to advance
woman meditating on beach
4 / 13

Relaxation Techniques

Because migraines are often triggered by stress, relaxation training is a great idea. Methods include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, in which you tense and relax the muscles in different parts of your body. With practice, this technique can improve how you handle stress, which may cut down on headaches.

Swipe to advance
woman running on treadmill
5 / 13


Regular cardio exercise -- workouts that get your heart pumping -- could make a difference. A Swedish study compared exercise with relaxation and a drug that prevents migraines. The cardio routine -- 40 minutes, three times a week -- worked as well as relaxation or medicine in cutting down on pain and how often headaches strike.

Swipe to advance
chiropractor helping patient
6 / 13

Spinal Manipulation

There's some question about whether this technique, also called getting "adjusted" by a chiropractor, can help with migraines. But one small study found it worked just as well as medication to prevent  headaches. 

There are some risks with this treatment, so talk to your doctor before trying it.


Swipe to advance
woman in therapy session
7 / 13

Talk Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing your thoughts and actions, may help you have fewer migraine symptoms.

Getting therapy doesn't mean you have emotional or mental problems. It can give you a fresh approach to situations that usually give you headaches. It works especially well when you also do other preventive treatments.


Swipe to advance
detailed food diary
8 / 13

Diet Changes

Some people find that certain foods trigger their migraines. Some of the most common culprits are alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, canned foods, cured or processed meats, aged cheeses, cultured dairy (such as yogurt), MSG, and aspartame.

Write down your meals and snacks in a "food diary" to help you remember what you ate before a headache came on. Then cut out these foods one at a time to see if it helps.

Swipe to advance
woman massaging temples
9 / 13


Many people find that putting gentle pressure on the head, face, and neck during a migraine can help ease the pain. Techniques to try:

  • Press your brow line and under your eyes.
  • Rub your temples and jaw in a circular motion.
  • Massage the base of your skull with a tennis ball.

A variety of head wraps and bands claim to ease migraine pain. They're inexpensive and might be worth a try.

Swipe to advance
sleepless woman with migraine
10 / 13


Studies show that poor sleep and migraines often go hand in hand. So rethink your routine. Things to try to get better shut-eye:

  • Don't read, watch TV, or listen to music in bed.
  • Don't take naps.
  • Don't eat heavy meals within a couple of hours of bedtime.
  • Don't use your phone, laptop, or tablet at bedtime.


Swipe to advance
couple working out on the beach
11 / 13

Keep Up Good Habits

Your lifestyle can have a big impact on how often you get your headaches. These tips can help:

  • Don't skip meals.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.


Swipe to advance
woman with pills
12 / 13

Why Try Treatments That Aren't Drugs?

They may be a good option if you:

  • Don’t get relief from prescribed treatments
  • Have trouble with medicine side effects
  • Have a condition that keeps you from taking migraine drugs
  • Simply don't want to take medication


Swipe to advance
female doctor talking to a patient
13 / 13

Do Your Homework

If you’d like to try a new way to treat your migraine, your doctor can tell you how well it works and if there are any risks. They may know of an expert who specializes in these treatments. And they can check to make sure they won’t have bad side effects.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 12/03/2019 Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on December 03, 2019


1)    Yuri Arcus
2)   William McCoy/Science Faction
3)   Bruce Ayres/Stone
4)   Les and Dave Jacobs/Cultura
5)   Yellow Dog Productions/Iconica
6)   Alain Shroder
7)   Boston Globe/Getty
8)  Lucidio Studio Inc/Photographer's Choice RF
9)  Fuse
10)  Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto
11)  Chris Ryan/OJO Images
12)  GSO Images/Photographer's Choice
13)  Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images


American Headache Society Committee for Headache Education.

American Headache Society: “Headache Toolbox Magnesium.”

Andrasik, F. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, July 2010.

Cochrane Summaries: "Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis."

Haupt, J. Neurology Now, May/June 2008.

Lipton, R. The Lancet Neurology, April 2010.

Medline Plus: "Coenzyme Q-10," "Feverfew," "Migraine Guidelines: What Works, What Doesn't," "Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)."

Migraine Research Foundation.

National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists: "What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?"

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Nelson, C.F, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 1998.

Nestoriuc, Y., Pain, March 2007.

Nicholson, R.A., Current Treatment Options in Neurology, Feb 2011.

Shepherd Pain Institute.

Sun-Edelstein, The Clinical Journal of Pain, June 2009.

UC Berkeley Health Services.

Varkey, E., Cephalalgia, October 2011.

Vijayan, N. Headache, January 1993.

Press release, FDA.

UptoDate: "Preventive treatment of migraine in adults."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on December 03, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

WebMD Voices

Sarah N., 39
New Orleans
I recognize which headaches are migraines in the making and immediately take my meds along with black coffee and very dark chocolate. That will often keep it at bay if I catch it at the first twinge.
Nicole V., 42
Manheim Township, PA
I have terrible migraines that I have figured out are connected to my hormonal cycle. The only thing that seems to help keep them at bay when I feel one come on is a sleep mask that puts pressure on my eyes.
Pam T., 43
Cleveland, OH
Since cutting certain foods from my diet, I rarely have migraines now.

From WebMD

More on Migraine