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Headaches.

Headaches are the most common type of pain. They are a major reason that individuals miss out on work or school or visit a healthcare service provider. This fact-sheet focuses on two types of headaches: tension headaches and migraines.

Tension Headaches and Migraines: What's the Difference?

Tension headaches- the most typical type of headache- are triggered by tight muscles in the shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw. They might be connected to tension, depression, or stress and anxiety and may take place more often in people who work too much, sleep too little, miss out on meals, or drink liquors.

Migraine headaches- which impact about 12 percent of Americans- involve moderate to severe throbbing discomfort, often on one side of the head. During a migraine, people are sensitive to light and sound and might feel nauseated. Some people have visual disturbances before a migraine- like seeing zigzag lines or flashing lights, or momentarily losing their vision. Stress and anxiety, tension, absence of food or sleep, exposure to light, or hormonal changes (in women) can set off migraines. Genes that manage the activity of some brain cells may contribute in triggering migraines.

What does Science say about Holistic Health Approaches for Headaches?

Research has actually produced appealing evidence for the efficiency of some alternative health approaches for tension headache or migraine. For other techniques, evidence of efficiency is minimal or conflicting.

Body and mind approaches that have been studied for treating headache consist of acupuncture, biofeedback, massage, relaxation strategies, spinal manipulation, and tai chi.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a strategy in which practitioners stimulate particular points on the body, most often by inserting thin needles through the skin.

There have been many research studies dealing with the efficacy of acupuncture in treating headache. These research studies suggest that acupuncture might assist in alleviating pain, but also that much of its benefit may be due to non specific effects related to expectation, beliefs, and placebo reactions instead of particular impacts of needling.

Acupuncture is normally considered safe when performed by an experienced specialist using sterilized needles. Improperly performed acupuncture can cause potentially major negative effects.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback measures body functions and provides you information about them so that you can end up being more aware of those functions and learn to control them. For instance, a biofeedback gadget might show you measurements of muscle stress. By being aware to these measurements, one can become more familiar with situations in which his muscles are tense and learn to relax them.

Several types of biofeedback have been studied for the purposes of treating headaches, consisting of methods that help people learn to relax and more specific methods that concentrate on physical changes that occur during headaches. 

Tension headaches

Numerous research studies have studied the efficacy of biofeedback for tension headaches, many of which have concluded that biofeedback might be helpful. Nevertheless, a small number of high quality research studies concluded that there is conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of biofeedback in treating tension headaches.

Migraines

Research studies have shown decreases in the frequency of migraines in people who were treated with biofeedback techniques. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether biofeedback is works better than a placebo for migraines. Biofeedback typically does not have hazardous side effects.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy includes a variety of techniques in which specialists massage the soft tissues of the body. Restricted proof from two small research studies indicates that massage therapy might be useful for migraines, however clear conclusions can not be drawn yet.

Massage therapy appears not to have negative effects when performed by a qualified practitioner. However, individuals with health conditions and pregnant women might need to avoid some types of massage and should consult their healthcare providers before having massage therapy.


Relaxation strategies

Relaxation strategies such as active muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises - are practices that can promote natural relaxation. Although some specialists consider relaxation techniques to be promising for tension headaches, there isn't much evidence to support their effectiveness. An assessment of high-quality research studies on relaxation strategies discovered conflicting evidence on whether they are much better than no treatment or a placebo. Some studies suggest that relaxation methods are less effective than biofeedback.

Relaxation techniques generally don't have negative effects. However, uncommon harmful impacts have actually been reported in individuals with severe physical or psychological health conditions.

Spinal manipulation

Spinal manipulation is a strategy in which practitioners utilize their hands or a device to apply a controlled force to a joint of the spine. Chiropractors or other health specialists might use this technique. Spine manipulation is frequently used for treating headaches. However, it's unclear whether this practice is effective due to the fact that studies have had produced inconsistent results.

Side effects of spine manipulation include short-term headaches, tiredness, or discomfort in the spine. There also have been unusual reports of strokes happening after manipulation of the upper (cervical) spinal column, but whether manipulation in fact caused the strokes is uncertain.

Tai chi

Tai chi, which originated in China, combines meditation with slow and precise movements, deep breathing, and relaxation.

One small randomized study has evaluated tai chi for treating tension headaches. Some evidence of improvements in severity of headaches and overall wellbeing was reported among patients who participated in a tai chi program compared to those on a wait list. However, these outcomes are to limited to draw any significant conclusions about whether this practice is helpful for tension headaches. Tai chi is generally considered to be a safe practice.

Dietary Supplements

A number of dietary supplements have been studied for headaches, particularly for migraine prevention. In 2012, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society released evidence-based guidelines that classified certain dietary supplements as "reliable," "most likely reliable," or "possibly reliable" in avoiding migraines. Their findings concerning efficiency of particular supplements are summed up in the next sections.
Butterbur

In their recommendations for migraine prevention, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society concluded that butterbur works and must be used by patients with migraine to lower the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.

The most typical adverse effects of butterbur are belching and other mild gastrointestinal tract symptoms. Raw butterbur extracts contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause liver damage and cancer. Extracts of butterbur that are almost completely free from these alkaloids exist. It is uncertain whether butterbur supplements, including reduced-alkaloid products, are safe for extended use.
Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is an anti-oxidant that cells require to work correctly. It can be consumed as a dietary supplement and has been studied for a range of purposes. The guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society state that coenzyme Q10 is potentially reliable and may be considered for migraine prevention.

No severe side effects of coenzyme Q10 have been reported. It may interact with some medications, including the blood-thinning medication Warfarin (Coumadin).
Feverfew

The recommendations of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society state that a specific feverfew extract called MIG-99 is most likely reliable and might to be considered for migraine prevention.

Negative effects of feverfew may include joint aches, gastrointestinal disruptions, and mouth ulcers. It might interact with blood thinners and some other medications. Feverfew is not safe for usage during pregnancy. Its long-term use safety has not been established.

Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is associated with factors that promote headaches, and individuals who suffer from migraines might have lower levels of magnesium in their bodies than those who do not. The recommendations of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society state that magnesium is most likely efficient and ought to be considered for migraine prevention.

Magnesium supplements can cause diarrhea and might interact with some medications. Because the quantities of magnesium people take for migraines are greater than the tolerable upper intake level for this mineral, magnesium supplements for migraine should be used only under the guidance of a health care provider.
Riboflavin

The American Academy of Neurology and American Headache Society's recommendations indicate that riboflavin is most likely reliable and ought to be considered for migraine prevention. Riboflavin has very little side effects, however it can trigger an intense yellow discoloration of the urine.


KEEP IN MIND
Always consult a doctor!

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