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Behavioural treatment for headaches.

Symvoulakis EK, Clark LV, Dowson AJ, Jones R, Ridsdale L. 2007. Headache: a suitable case for behavioural treatment in primary care? Brit J Gen Prac Mar 231-7.

Headache affects 91% of males and 96% of females at some point during their lifetime and has a considerable impact at a personal, social and financial level. Studies report a prevalence for migraines of 6% in males and 15% in females, tension type headache 63% in males and 86% in females.

Behavioural therapies and physical treatment for headache management can be used as alternatives or adjuncts to pharmacological treatment and are based on the concept that patients should have a personal active involvement in their treatment. Behavioural treatments are based on strategies that identify and change possible precipitating factors or develop physiological autoregulation abilities to prevent and manage the headache.

Physical therapies (e.g. massage, chiropractic) are commonly sought by patients however there is lack of evidence regarding the efficacy of these treatments in decreasing headache frequency, intensity, duration or disability.

Behavioural strategies include relaxation training, biofeedback training, cognitive behavioural therapies or a combination of these. Behavioural treatments showed a reduction in migraine of 32-49% with only 5% reduction for the no treatment controls and reduction in tension type headache of 37-50% with 2% for no treatment controls. The gains of behavioural treatment seem to last over time representing a significant clinical advantage for this type of therapy.

Anne Cowper

PO Box 45, Concord West NSW 2138

Email ajmh@nhaa.org.au
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Article Details
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Author:Cowper, Anne
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 22, 2007
Words:249
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