Tension Headaches Eased With Therapy Without Drugs

Relieve Headaches

Tension Headaches

Several types of nonpharmacologic treatment, including physical exercise, relaxation training, and acupuncture can provide long-lasting improvements for patients with chronic tension-type headaches, physical therapists in Sweden report.

Because the frequent use of pain medications can lead to chronic headaches, it is important that analgesics are discontinued as a first step in treating tension headaches, Dr. Elisabeth Soderberg and her associates report in the current issue of the journal Cephalalgia.

The research team, at Sahlgrenska Academy, Goteborg University, designed a study in which 90 patients, who had chronic tension-type headaches for an average of 7 years, were randomly assigned to physical training, relaxation training, or acupuncture. Chronic tension-type headache was defined as headache occurring at least 15 days per month for at least 6 months.

The trial began with a 4-week pretreatment period, during which time the subjects used diaries to document headache characteristics. They also kept diaries in the 4 weeks immediately after the training sessions and again 3 and 6 months after treatment.

Acupuncture was administered at recommended sites using 10 to 12 needles during 30-minute weekly sessions for 10 to 12 weeks.