Biofeedback and Migraines: The Goals of Training

Need some stress management too?

Biofeedback and migraines can go hand in hand to reduce stress and prevent attacks. It is commonly used with a guided meditation and is proven to be most effective... for some migraine sufferers but not all.

The good news is that this might be much easier and more fun than most of the other things you've tried to rid yourself of your relentless, horrific migraines.

However, as in learning anything new, great patience is often needed so you may just have to persevere learning this as an adult.

The good news is that children usually learn to use a biofeedback system much quicker and easier than adults do.

So if you have kids that experience headaches or migraines, don't wait to try out a biofeedback system.

Biofeedback devices have had very successful results for the prevention of childhood migraines in past studies.

I tried using the temperature biofeedback system to warm my freezing cold hands, but it didn't reduce my terrible migraine pain in any way. I did try another kind again, after I sorted out my medication strategy, called the Wild Divine System that Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, and Dean Ornish are involved with.

I highly respect all three of these men and have been following them for years. I had much better results with this system... with some added benefits.

How Does it Actually Work?

Biofeedback works on the assumption that your body has a "natural potential and ability to influence certain autonomic (involuntary) functions." [1]

Computers and computerized monitors assist you in learning and training yourself to use the programs to change your breath, body temperature and heart rate. I thought it would be impossible.

Once you master the resulting relaxation and mind control - you can use it anywhere and any anytime, with no further need for the equipment. (YAY!) 

The 3 Most Common Types of Biofeedback

Here are the three most common types of biofeedback:

Temperature biofeedback

You can hold onto or be attached to a temperature sensor on your finger or toe. When you are stressed out or anxious your skin temperature drops. The blood is redirected to the muscles and inner organs when you are stressed out. The sensor will be attached to a computer, and the computer screen will monitor the changes.

Galvanic skin response

Aka "lie detector"... yes, just like in the movies! Electrodes are attached to your body (skin), a small hardly detectable electrical charge runs through your skin and registers on the machine. The machine actually uses the electrodes to measure changes in your skins secretions (water and salt) from your sweat gland ducts. This has proven effective in the past as the increased emotions can be measured through the increase in sweat when under pressure. 

Electromyogram (EMG)

This one is used for training us migraineurs how to use a biofeedback system. During training electrodes are placed on muscles in the forehead, jaw, and upper shoulders. You are meant to relax while the machine produces a tone or a light for each muscle group where tension is detected. It takes patience and perseverance.

Forming The Right Goals for Your Training Sessions

Biofeedback and Migraines @migrainesavvyBiofeedback and Migraines: Training might help reduce your migraines. You will have to persevere and learn the practice @migrainesavvy

Your doctor or therapist might want you to have some specific goals for your training sessions, depending on the migraine diagnosis you receive.

My goal, of course, is to be completely migraine free forever. Might that be similar to yours?

Goal #1. To be completely migraine free FOREVER!

Be realistic with your expectations of this method. Your doctor will be happy if you simply reduce the occurrence of them thus reducing the medications you need to use.

You will also have physical goals like:

  • Relaxing muscles and different muscle groups
  • Breathing slower or
  • Regulating your breathing
  • Redirecting blood to the hands, to warm them
  • Redirecting blood to the feet, to warm them
  • Lowering your blood pressure

Other goals/benefits:
increased concentration, increased attention span, and increased ability to focus.

Biofeedback is often used along with relaxation training, meditation, and imagery or visualization techniques.

Here are the ones I use:

Time Required for Biofeedback and Migraines

One goal I didn't mention is the time you need to put into training. Just like meditation, 20 minutes twice every day is a good maintenance routine to work towards.

Some doctors will recommend three, ten minute sessions each day until you have results.

Other systems I have found that also work well for stress reduction are:

Biofeedback and Migraines... In Conclusion

I'm up for trying anything that might stop my mighty attacks. And some biofeedback devices or tens units are a cheap alternative to say regular acupuncture with $80 a session price tag.

However, these days I am more about evidence based treatments and while biofeedback with a professional therapist who specializes in migraine could be worth a trial, that could get expensive. But not as expensive as missing half your life due to disabling attacks.

There are targeted options like the Cefaly and gammaCore devices... but again expensive.

So finding a doctor or therapist trained in biofeedback and migraines is definitely worth a go. You can weigh up the pros and cons here - Pros and Cons of Biofeedback

Be well and pain free,

Biofeedback and Migraines Reference: [1] Robert, T. (2005) Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. Harper Collins Publishers: New York. pp. 155-156.

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