Biofeedback

The Mind-Body Connection to Headache Treatment

Biofeedback is a critical therapy method for children — or any patient — looking for a lifelong way to control headache beyond medications. The Diamond Headache Clinic offers biofeedback therapy for migraines to help patients find their own balance between medical therapies, alternative treatments and lifestyle modifications. Biofeedback allows the patient to play an active and integral role in maintaining his or her health.

Girl sitting outside for alternative migraine treatment

What Is Biofeedback?

Within the last 35 years, continued research has shown biofeedback to be a viable therapeutic tool in the treatment of many disorders, including headache, high blood pressure, Raynaud's disease, muscle spasm, chronic anxiety, neuro-muscular dysfunction, epilepsy, insomnia, asthma and numerous other conditions.

Biofeedback for migraine is a scientifically proven, non-drug therapy that our patients use every day to control headache symptoms and reduce headache frequency. It is an acquired skill that can be applied on demand to change specific responses of the body and diminish — or even stop — headache pain.

Biofeedback teaches you how to control bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, which once were considered to be beyond voluntary control. Decades of research have proven that, with daily practice, patients can be taught this voluntary control and how to use it effectively. In fact, our five-year retrospective study showed that 85% of all adults and 90% of all children who learn temperature and electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback techniques show significant reduction in severity, duration and frequency of headaches.

How Does Biofeedback Therapy for Migraine Work?

Body temperature and muscle tension are affected by stress and strain. Biofeedback training provides you with instant information on how these involuntary processes react to stress. By tracking these reactions, you can observe and even change your body’s reaction to stress. Specifically, patients who can recognize and reduce muscle tension and/or warm the temperature of their hands experience fewer and less severe headache attacks.

Various types of instruments monitor bodily response — muscle tension or skin temperature — as the patient attempts to affect that response. With a sufficient amount of effort and practice, and the help of a qualified professional trainer, the patient gradually learns physiological sensations and body cues that allow the instruments to be removed. Once that happens, you can use this technique at any time and in any place.

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How Effective is Biofeedback for Migraine?

When the patient is receptive to this type of therapy and willing to make the commitment to practice it regularly, the results can be significant. In some studies, patients saw a reduction of 45% – 60% in migraine and tension headache —equivalent to that provided by certain drugs (e.g., beta blockers for migraine and tricyclic antidepressants for tension headache). Superior treatment results are obtained by a combination of medication and biofeedback.

Biofeedback at the Diamond Headache Clinic

Our clinic features dedicated biofeedback laboratories and trained clinicians who take you step-by-step through the therapeutic process. State-of-the-art technology is used to display body temperature and EMG results in real time to ensure you understand when and how you are controlling your autonomic responses.

The single most relevant measure of the success of biofeedback training is the degree to which headache symptoms are reduced in terms of severity, duration and frequency. Evaluations are made by your physician at appropriate intervals and medication is reduced or eliminated whenever possible.

Medical Coverage for Biofeedback

Some insurance companies, recognizing the value of biofeedback in the treatment of headache, reimburse at least a portion of the cost of the sessions when they are part of the total treatment program. Actual coverage depends on your individual policy and its limits. Payment is expected at the end of each biofeedback session. If necessary, the biofeedback staff will assist you with insurance claims.

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