Below are the five best non-pharmacological treatments for migraine management! They all have been shown to be the effective at reducing migraine attack frequency, intensity, and duration.
1. Adequate sleep (7-9hr per/night)
Get enough sleep is one of the most important parts of migraine management. It's crucial for optima recovery from daily activity. It helps to improve sensory processing, a known problem for those with migraine. And it helps to lower our stress levels when we get good quality sleep.
Sleeping 6 hours or less per night has been shown to lead to a significant increase in migraine chronicity! So, getting quality sleep consistently is very important.
Many things go into getting a good night sleep. Things to consider are the bedroom set up, the amount of light from outside coming into the room, the temperature, and how you are preparing your body for sleep.
All of these things can plan a role in falling asleep quickly, staying asleep, and getting into the deep restorative levels of sleep.
2. Regular Exercise
Both strength & aerobic address multiple aspects of migraine pathophysiology.
Aerobic exercise and strength training exercise help to improve blood flow in the brain, increase mitochondrial biogenesis need for energy in the brain, and improves sensory processing.
These processes are known to contribute to migraine frequency. By improving neural function we can address migraine!
A migraine management regime without exercise is an incomplete program.
3. Diet (food & hydration)
Hypoglycemia and dehydration are common triggers for those with migraine. Creating a regular routine to avoid these triggers can help to significant reduce migraine attack.
Other aspects of food & hydration include consuming nutrients that support optimal brain health. Such as EPA & DHA, riboflavin, magnesium, and CoQ10 to name a few.
4. Stress Management
Stress isn't the same as anxiety. Stress comes in many forms, both positive & negative.
Learning how to recognize when your body is showing high levels of stress and then developing strategies to lessen or recover from stressful periods can lower attack frequency.
Time management, meditation, and deep breathing exercises are all good ways to manage stress. And there are a lot more strategies! The best stress management strategy will vary for each individual.
I like doing progressive muscle relaxation, but that may not be for you. So when trying to find stress management activities the key is to find things that you enjoy and make you feel relaxed!
5. Address Musculoskeletal Triggers
A large percentage of those with migraine report musculoskeletal pain, most commonly in the neck, shoulders, and jaw. Sometimes it's just referral from migraine itself. Other times they are due to musculoskeletal impairments.
Getting a thorough physical examination related to headache & migraine can prove to be very beneficial in fighting back against migraine. By addressing musculoskeletal dysfunction of the upper back, neck, and jaw we can significantly reduce migraine frequency!
The best person to do a musculoskeletal exam for migraine is a physical therapist who specifically treats headache disorders, like myself.