Migraine is classically characterized by a throbbing pain localized to the side of the head, lasting from a few hours up to a few days, frequently accompanied by nausea and dizziness. There could be variations on these characteristics, and you may have a different experience from others. Compared to other more common headaches, migraine pain can be more disabling, usually moderate or severe in intensity, and often limits or prevents regular functioning in daily activities.
Migraine pain may be preceded by warning symptoms such as heightened sensitivity to light or sound, difficulty speaking, walking, concentrating, nausea or even just a sense that “something is off.” Different migraine sufferers may have different symptoms. About a third of people that suffer from migraines also experience an aura, which is characterized by visual disturbances (flashing lights, blurred vision, distorted vision of objects) that appear 5-20 minutes before the attack and lasts from a few minutes to an hour.
The real cause of migraines is unknown. A common understanding is that onset mechanisms can be traced back to a sudden neurological event that also involves blood vessels in the brain, and that changes in these vessels underlie the intense pain of migraine.
Through biofeedback it becomes possible to regulate the physiological changes that have a close link with the sensation of intense headache pain. Thermal biofeedback is particularly useful in the treatment of migraine. Thanks to it, in fact, you learn to voluntarily modify the body processes by which migraine pain is experienced.
The literature identifies certain categories of migraine sufferers for whom biofeedback is particularly suitable:
- People who prefer a non-drug approach to managing their migraine pain
- People who show intolerance to the use of drugs, or have associated risk factors
- People who have a poor response to drug treatment
- Pregnant women, women planning to become pregnant, or breast-feeding women
- People who experience high levels of psychological stress alongside their migraine pain
- Bernstein, C. & McArdle E., (2008). The migraine brain: your breakthrough guide to fewer headaches, better health. New York: Pocket books.
- Finore E., (2012). The use of biofeedback in the treatment of migraine. Doctoral Project, William James College Library
- 10 Key Questions About Migraines. http://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/headache/index.aspx
- The Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute (MHNI). http://www.mhni.com/headache-pain-faq/non-drug-treatment-alternatives/biofeedback-and-relaxation