Migraine therapy suggests alternative to
A study of 15 teenagers taught “behavioural therapy” found that
four-fifths had about half the number of monthly migraines that they would
have normally suffered. They also recorded an 80 per cent reduction in the
hours of activities missed due to migraine pain, researchers at Ohio
The results need to be replicated in a larger study group, say the team. But
if the findings hold true, it could enable many teenagers to avoid unnecessary
The study involved 30 teenagers who recorded an average of 3.3 migraines a
month with moderate to severe pain, and an average of 5.1 hours a month when
their headaches prevented them from participating in numerous activities.
Half the teenagers were treated with triptans – a fairly new class of drugs
widely used for migraine in adults. The rest were assigned to a
telephone-administered behavioral therapy program. This involved reading a
manual that provided information on ways to identify early signs of migraine
and how to manage the triggers that bring on the pain. The group read a
chapter a week and discussed what they had learnt with project leaders.
This group also underwent “biofeedback” therapy. The teenagers had a small
electronic thermometer attached to their finger to measure body temperature.
They were taught how to increase the temperature in their fingers – a
process that triggers blood vessels in the head to relax, lessening headache
One of the researchers, Professor Ken Holroyd, says, “The triptan therapies
have proven very helpful for adults, but it has not been determined if they
will be as effective for treating migraines in teens.
“If teens can learn to control migraines without medication, this could save
decades of medication consumption.”
The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Headache
Society on June 21 in Seattle.
© Health Media Ltd 2002