There seems to be a lot of electric migraine relief available to us now, more than ever before. Biofeedback is the most widely prescribed method by professionals to find pain relief.
But what if medications and biofeedback don’t really do the trick? Then what? Where do we turn?
Many new electrical devices require surgery. This option, as I am chicken, feels like it the very last resort for me. That's why I said serious electric relief. I am ...
C H I C K E N !
There is a lot strong evidence suggesting that proper Biofeedback training is as useful as migraine medications. Studies have shown it to be comparable to a beta blocker.
So this means that using biofeedback training along with a medication (or medications, should you need daily prophylactics) should be even more beneficial than either one on its on.
The benefits being significant pain reduction. I would hope to expect complete pain reduction, actually. But doctors aim for 50 per cent reduction.
Biofeedback, as electric migraine relief helps you “gain conscious control over body processes that are normally unconscious, such as blood pressure and the tension level in your muscles.”
By learning to control things like: changes in your pulse and heart rate, skin temperature on your hands and feet, muscle tone, and brain wave patterns you may be able to reduce your migraine attacks.
The device normally has a sound or flashing light to indicate a change in the pattern, plus these days you have a video screen to tell you what has changed. It does take some time to learn your bodily responses.
But over time, with a good biofeedback therapist, you can learn to alter your automatic functions. If you are a quick learner, you may only need a few sessions to get your started. This also has other health benefits.
Studies done with teenagers showed an 85 per cent improvement in functioning.
This particular study used 20 adolescents, who practiced the biofeedback technique three times a week for 2 weeks - and when they had a headache.
We need a larger and longer study really, but these results indicate a good reduction in migraine frequency and severity. And less school was missed.
With any alternative, complementary therapy, find a reputable therapist. Don't be afraid to check their credentials, experience and see who they are licensed with. You can Google most associations these days to see if they are legit.
Check with your insurance agency and your health funds to see if they cover biofeedback training sessions now.
I prefer using the Wild Divine Biofeedback System, because it’s more like doing a meditation and you don't need to pay a therapist to teach you. It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but it was well worth it. Biofeedback did not eliminate my migraines - just to be perfectly clear.
It did reduce the intensity of them and I have much less anxiety around the attacks. That in itself feels like a Godsend. My anxiety attacks used to be horrible too.
A few small studies support that this method using a TENS device “might reduce the frequency of migraines.” Many alternative health practitioners recommend using TENS with physiotherapy, massage, or some sort of stretching like yoga or chi gong to get the best results.
The Implanted Occipital Nerve Stimulator is placed at the back of the head just under the skin. This is considered a surgical procedure. It is a pacemaker like device that has electrodes to stimulate the occipital nerve.
The occipital nerve runs along the back of the head on both sides, joining with the trigeminal nerve in the upper part of the spinal cord. The electrical current reduces activity in the trigeminal nerve thus reducing migraine pain.
Only migraineurs that get no relief from medications will be considered for this type of treatment. It is invasive and a relatively new procedure. Not enough treatments have been done to provide high numbers showing positive or beneficial results.
The Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation portable device looks like a hair dryer and provides a single magnetic pulse into the scalp, inducing “a mild electric current in the back of the brain.”
It is believed that this targeted electrical signal might “short-circuit the hyper excitability in areas of the brain associated with migraines.”
Vagus Nerve Stimulation requires a surgical procedure that places a wire to the large Vagus nerve in the neck and provides electrical impulses.
Currently, this is all theoretical and more research and data must be gathered before this can be recommended as an electric migraine relief method.
Deep brain stimulation used to be used to treat severe cases of depression.
It is currently being researched to help treat severe cases of cluster headache.
A pacemaker like medical device is implanted in the head and sends regular electrical impulses to designated parts of the brain known to be associated with migraine attacks. The constant pulses of electrical current disrupts the abnormal patterns of brain activity and is thought to restore normal brain rhythms.
However, according to Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh "the exact mechanisms of this neuromodulation are still unknown." The research has had some success but serious side effects have negated the positives.
Complications like: infection, bleeding, and death all related to the actual surgical procedure of placing the wire leads in the brain means this procedure will never likely be used as part of main stream migraine treatment.
I just have to add here - I saw a new pain specialist a month ago, and he was very disappointed that he could not do this surgery on me (not sufficient health cover).
I mentioned the big sigh I observed and slouched shoulders, a sign of his disappointment, and he just said "it would be the best treatment for you."
Surgery is a last resort for me, and it seems, a first for him. Scary.
I have found these non-surgical electric migraine relief devices to be most helpful. Give one a try.
To date, nothing has worked better for me than taking a triptan medication at my earliest warning sign.
The electric migraine relief devices do help with intensity and can sometimes help with frequency, but they did not work for me on their own.
So I would recommend combining traditional medications with alternative complementary therapies to treat chronic migraine headaches.
Overall, Biofeedback therapy has the best results so far, with the most research. But new devices are coming on the market all the time.
Just since writing this page here are some more to look into:
Electric Migraine Relief References:
1. Rizzoli, P. MD, Loder E., MD and Neporent L. (2011) The Migraine Solution: A complete Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Pain Management. St. Martins Press: New York. pp. 152-155, 173-174.
2. Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh DBS