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How Effective Is Biofeedback for Migraines?

Article Details
  • Written By: Sarah Kay Moll
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Biofeedback is a type of alternative medicine technique where a patient learns to control bodily functions such as heart rate or skin temperature. Biofeedback is used for a variety of conditions, including migraines. There is little evidence, however, that biofeedback for migraines is an effective treatment.

During a biofeedback session, a patient is connected to sensors that measure bodily function. The person then learns to control those functions through bodily changes, like relaxing certain muscles. Different types of feedback help people learn to control different types of body functions.

One type of biofeedback for migraines is a technique where people learn to control, and then raise, the temperature of the hand. Sensors placed on the hand that measure the temperature can help people learn this technique. There is some anecdotal evidence that this can help alleviate migraines. Double blind clinical trials, the most reliable type of clinical trials, have yet to show any evidence that this is an effective technique though.

Electromyography biofeedback is another biofeedback technique where sensors placed on the body give feedback about muscle tension in the body. This can help people learn to relax their muscles at will. Although this technique seems promising for relieving tension headaches, there is no evidence it is an effective type of biofeedback for migraines.

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Biofeedback is often used as a relaxation technique, and can be a good way to relieve anxiety or stress. It can also help in the treatment of pain, asthma, and a number of other conditions. More research needs to be done, however, on biofeedback for migraines.

Many people find biofeedback a useful complementary treatment, meaning it is used to supplement and augment medical treatments. Biofeedback is non-invasive and generally safe, although it is best to consult a physician before beginning this type of treatment. It can be used to help people who do not tolerate medications well or pregnant women, who cannot take certain medications.

The downside to biofeedback is the cost and time invested in learning the techniques. Unlike relaxation techniques like yoga, which can be done at home or in a group, biofeedback requires many sessions with a qualified specialist. Finding a qualified biofeedback specialist can be another difficult task.

Some people have found biofeedback for migraines to be helpful; however, controlled clinical trials are necessary to measure how effective it is. The clinical trials that have been done do not show any decrease in migraine symptoms due to biofeedback techniques. There is no hard evidence that biofeedback is an effective migraine treatment.

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