You’ll need alternative treatment for migraines if your current treatments are not working and you're getting breakthrough pain and symptoms.
Consider adding one or all of these options if your attacks are persistent, and your prescribed treatments aren’t working well enough. Experts say that using a combination of these options could help you manage the whole attack better and get faster relief.
Here are 8 of the best alternatives when your current treatments aren’t working as effectively as you need them to.
Note to self - the most expensive treatments are the ones that don't work. And you keep paying for them, just in case they do.
Do you get breakthrough pain... and then depend on medications that don’t work properly? Do you suffer from the severe or frightening side effects they cause?
Choosing alternative migraine treatments can offer you another option for pain management, one that is easier on the body and has fewer side effects.
Ok, I'm sad to tell you that this part is trial and error to find exactly what works for you. And it can take a long time to figure out. BUT... the good news is that the options listed below have good evidence behind them and are the most widely recommended by experts... except for the last one.
There are so many alternative therapies that claim to help reduce migraines, I suggest you do your research before wasting time and money.
Lesson learned! I only stick to the most evidence-based treatments available now, having already done that. Spent way too much money on things that don't work... just in case they work for me.
Most physicians recommend combining complementary or alternative treatment for migraines with mainstream medicines to find the most effective pain relief.
Some of these have been proven through clinical trials. They can be most beneficial if you suffer from chronic migraine attacks. These are the ones with the best results (at time of writing):
Biofeedback has had great success as an alternative treatment for migraines.
With Biofeedback, small metal electrodes are attached to your fingers. They give feedback about heart rate, skin temperature, muscle tension, brain waves, and other vital organ signs.
It teaches you to control certain physical responses to stress in your body. It is useful in the early treatment of migraines. You can read more about it here - Biofeedback and Migraine.
Avoiding migraine headache triggers is essential to managing migraine recurrence. If your triggers are food related, changing your diet can be very effective in reducing your attacks.
Keeping a migraine diary is a great place to start to help you and your doctor determine patterns associated with the attacks.
I spent years on this with a migraine allergy elimination diet. It led to the conclusion that most of my migraines are not food oriented, with the exception of chocolate and alcohol.
Regardless of my results – this is a very worthwhile option to try.
This has become my favorite bit. Slowing right down and relaxing. Meditating is good too!
Do you store extra tension in your neck muscles from the migraine attacks?
That's pretty common if you get regular migraine attacks.
Meditating, doing yoga and Tai chi and using biofeedback are great alternative treatment for migraines.
If you can't afford regular therapy to learn biofeedback, I can recommend the Wild Divine Biofeedback System that teaches you both meditation and biofeedback training.
Dealing with chronic pain is not easy!
Studies have proven that the best results for pain management were from using pain medications along with stress management and relaxation techniques.
Chronic recurring migraine attacks are also associated with
depression. It’s a fact. Learning effective coping skills, along with stress management, are important. Make sure you find professional migraine support if you need some extra help. I have loads of help in my bookstore and free bits in my course, so be sure to check them out.
Guided mindfulness meditation or some other form of meditation is a reliable relaxation technique you can do at home, at work, or whenever you need to. And it's free!
Studies have proven that acupuncture for migraines can reduce attacks by releasing pain-reducing opioid chemicals called endorphins.
It also stimulates the brain to release other types of chemicals and hormones in our bodies that transmit signals between different types of cells, including those in our immune system.
And, it has been proven to have long term effects that can last for months after a series of treatments.
I used acupuncture weekly for 3 years to deal with the intensity of my migraine episodes and it worked quite well. I highly recommend trying acupuncture if you have not already. It has many beneficial effects for you to better manage life with migraines.
Click here for the routine I recommend - Migraine Pressure Point Routine for Migraine Relief.
And my fav post on acupuncture - Can Acupuncture for Migraines Stop Relentless Attacks?
Just an added note on Daith piercing here… it is NOT acupuncture. But I have to admit there is some good anecdotal evidence now that has accumulated. If you get mild attacks this might be an option worth considering.
Click here to read about my research and findings on Daith piercing for migraine relief.
There is a wide variety of herbs and supplements that are commonly used as alternative migraine treatments.
Studies provide some evidence that using butterbur and feverfew for migraines reduces the frequency and severity and helps with pain management.
Although there is a lot of skepticism around supplements for migraines, I take mine anyway.
It's important to me to be proactive in my own health and wellbeing.
And I think they help my body deal with 20 days of disabling migraine attacks every month.
You can read more here - The Top 6 Supplements for Migraine.
Magnesium is essential for some of us. I've written about that here:
Even more controversial is CBD Oil for migraines - you can read about that here - CBD and Migraines: What’s the Deal?
Massage is a great way to reduce stress and tension held in your body (women hold more than men).
You already know as a person living with migraine that the back of the head, the neck, and the shoulders are sore, tender spots. Massage is very effective at reducing tightness in these areas by increasing blood flow to them.
The value of massage in treating headaches has not been demonstrated convincingly through clinical trials. Yet, it is a widely used alternative treatment for migraines.
Manual therapies like chiropractic or osteopathic treatments may also help reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks. They also improve the bodily functions that improve digestion and sleep, all important to us migraine sufferers. However, this has NOT been proven in recent studies.
Trigger point therapy in particular, has been proven to be an effective technique for pain relief. It fits in nicely with massages and other forms of bodywork. Some of the trigger points you can even reach yourself, for immediate relief. But as I said, this modality has not been proven in studies to reduce severity or frequency of migraine attacks.
If it does keep your pain away and keeps you happy in between attacks, and you can afford it then go for it!!
Here's my post on - Trigger point therapy for migraine relief.
Using ice will help reduce the pain fast. This is my number one go to for quick pain relief.
If you can make yourself more comfortable during that window of time you are waiting for the abortive to kick in…. this is a must! Imo!
Here's my link to The Best Ice Packs for Migraine Relief
And on a personal note…
My migraine pattern nearly stopped when I started taking, and getting, regular B12 injections. Now this might not be the case for you, and you might hate injections as I do. But it’s SO worth it.
Also, it's not expensive. And it more than halved my attacks... YAY!
At the very least, discuss this topic with your doctor and do some investigating. A blood test will help start you off, and you can take it from there. Your doctor or a reliable naturopath will be able to help you out with this.
That's it for now. Remember you are not alone in this, stay connected by joining the mailing list.
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