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There are 3 main types of non-drug treatments for migraine.
- See a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Migraine is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means doctors must eliminate other reasons for your symptoms before arriving at a migraine diagnosis. If your symptoms are bad enough for you to be evaluating treatments, you should make sure you actually have migraine and not something else.
- Keep a detailed headache diary so that you can analyze patterns to try to learn your common headache triggers.
- Stick to the same eating and sleeping schedule every day – even on the weekends. Don’t skip meals or change sleep patterns.
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Dehydration is a very common migraine trigger.
- Exercise regularly.
- Keep your weight down. An increase in BMI (body mass index) may result in an increase in the frequency of migraines.
These therapies promote general good health and well-being. They can improve your quality of life. Their success in treating migraine is difficult to measure and may depend on many things, like the therapist, the length of treatment, and your commitment to regular practice.
These therapies can be tried alone or in combination:
- Physical therapy
- Tai Chi
- Stress management: relaxation techniques, breathing, visualization, meditation
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Exercise programs are frequently recommended to promote health, control weight, and prevent disease. Migraine sufferers typically are less physically active than those who don’t suffer. They often avoid exercise, worrying that the exercise itself will aggravate or trigger a migraine.
Sufferers who follow certain common-sense guidelines can improve their quality of life and increase their aerobic endurance and flexibility without aggravating or triggering their migraines. Here are some tips:
- Keep your exercise low-impact. Use equipment like stationary bikes or ellipticals that minimize pounding movements. Try Tai Chi, Yoga, isometric or band exercises.
- When using a treadmill, increase the incline rather than the speed to minimize pounding movements.
- Stretching and weight-bearing exercises are important, but be careful of the neck area. This is a very tender and vulnerable spot that can directly affect migraines.
- Drink water and stay hydrated. Dehydration is a very common migraine trigger.
- Take it slow. Work up to longer and more intense exercise as your body gets stronger.
- Listen to your body – if an exercise aggravates your migraines, don’t do it! But don’t abandon exercise. Consult a trainer or physical therapist for alternatives.
The information provided here should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, or evaluation of any medical condition. The Migraine Research Foundation has made every effort to ensure that the information is accurate; however, we cannot warranty its reliability, completeness, or timeliness. © Migraine Research Foundation.