Advertisement

How effective is relaxation for preventing headaches?

Dr. Dawn Marcus
Neurologist

Decades of research studies have proven that relaxation is very effective for raising the headache threshold and preventing headaches. In one study, headache activity was compared in 192 patients treated with relaxation training or propranolol (Inderal), a standard migraine prevention drug. After 6 months, headache frequency, duration, and severity decreased by about half each for both treatment groups. Then patients were told to stop practicing relaxation techniques or taking propranolol. Six months later, headaches had worsened by at least half in 39 percent of those who had been treated with propranolol, but only 9 percent in the people trained to use relaxation. Researchers thought that migraine sufferers who knew how to use relaxation would likely continue to use the skills as needed after discontinuing daily practice, resulting in continued headache control for most of them.

Patients who combine stress management with their usual drug therapies can expect the best reduction in their headaches. A two-month treatment program compared headache reduction after treatment with stress management to using standard doses of the migraine prevention drug amitriptyline (Elavil). Headache reduction was greater with stress management training (58 percent) compared with amitriptyline (33 percent).

The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

More About this Book

The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

Migraines are a common, controllable type of headache that affects one in every six women, more than 20 million in the United States alone. The Woman’s Migraine Toolkit helps readers take charge of...

Continue Learning about Headache

Mind Over Migraines
Mind Over Migraines
There’s good news for children who suffer frequent, debilitating migraines (and for parents who suffer seeing their kids in pain). Research now shows ...
Read More
How are headaches diagnosed?
Dr. Irene A. Semenov, DODr. Irene A. Semenov, DO
The diagnosis of headache disorder is made based on the history. Patients with headaches who are eva...
More Answers
What Your Headache Is Telling You
What Your Headache Is Telling YouWhat Your Headache Is Telling YouWhat Your Headache Is Telling YouWhat Your Headache Is Telling You
Chocolate, wine or sex could be to blame for your headaches.
Start Slideshow
5 Natural Headache Remedies
5 Natural Headache Remedies

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.