Biofeedback and neurofeedback are non-pharmaceutical treatments which are extremely effective for treating migraines and chronic headaches. 

The Brain Clinic provides three types of biofeedback treatments:
 

Electromyography biofeedback (EMG) uses a surface electrode to measure muscle tension. This information is displayed on a screen where patients can directly see their muscle tension and learn how to reduce it. By learning to relax their musculature, physical tension can be brought under control.

  • This treatment is helpful for: those suffering with tension headaches. 
     

Heart rate variability (HRV) measures the variability of the heart rate, which varies as much as 10 beats from the lowest (on the exhale) to the highest (on the inhale).  A simple sensor fastens to a finger or an ear lobe to measure the pulse, and a display shows the heart rate. By employing relaxed breathing and coordinating this with the HRV, calmness results, producing an autonomic balance of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

  • This treatment is helpful for: those with cardiac conditions, hypertension, or anxiety. 
     

Hemoencephalography (HEG) trains the patient to control the cerebral blood flow in the frontal lobes.  An infrared camera sensor is placed on the forehead which reads the cerebral blood flow, and the patient learns to control the blood flow by the display being watched. In the case of the passive infrared hemoencephalography (pir HEG), the display is any movie the patient wishes to see. If the frontal lobe blood flow remains high, the patient can continue to watch the movie.  When the temperature drops, then the movie stops, and by focusing on a bar graph display the cortical activity increases, starting the movie starts again.

  • This treatment is helpful for: treating most migraines. 

 

For more information about biofeedback and other treatments, visit The Brain Clinic.

 

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References:

Blanchard, E. Andrasik, F., Ahles, T., Teders, S., & O'Keefe, D. (1980). Migraine and tension-type headache: A meta-analytic review. Behavior Therapy, 11, 613-631.
Carmen, J. (2004). Passive infrared hemoencephalography: Four years and 100 migraines. Journal of Neurotherapy, 8 (3), 23-51.
Lehrer, P. (2007).  Biofeedback training to increase heart rate variability. In P  Lehrer, R. Woolfolk, & W. Simes (Eds.), Principles and Practice of Stress Management, (pp. 227-248), NY: Guilford