A division of the U.S. National Institute of Health (the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) has published a review of evidence concluding that relaxation techniques may be helpful for those with headache and migraine pain.
After looking at U.S. studies conducted between 1966 and 2016 where massage, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, natural supplements, tai chi, yoga, or relaxation techniques were applied to pain conditions of osteoarthritis, back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, and headaches, they found significant decreases in pain and pain-related disability/function when using:
- acupuncture and yoga for back pain
- acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee
- massage therapy for neck pain—with adequate doses and for short-term benefit
- relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraine
In addition, although the evidence was weaker, the researchers found that tai chi and relaxation may help people with fibromyalgia pain.
Although we cannot prevent all headaches (there are so many possible triggers), it’s good to realize that there are a variety of strategies, from medication to relaxation techniques, that can help diminish the pain of the headaches we do experience.
If you would like to explore more about using relaxation and biofeedback with tension and migraine headaches, check out the Decreasing Headaches program.