Non-medicine treatments for migraine

The following non-medicine treatments may help to prevent frequent or troublesome migraines in some people. They can be used either instead of, or in addition to, medicine treatments.

  • Physical therapies, e.g. physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment, especially where neck problems are thought to be contributing to migraines. It’s essential to seek out a therapist with specialist training in this area, as there have been very rare reports of stroke after spinal manipulation of the neck.
  • Physical exercise
  • Relaxation training, which can help manage underlying problems with stress. Yoga and meditation may be worth considering.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a psychological therapy that teaches people to identify and challenge stress generating thoughts. CBT is useful in all age groups, including children and teenagers.
  • Acupuncture.

Keeping a headache diary can help identify migraine triggers. Avoiding triggers (if possible) probably won’t eliminate your migraines completely but may reduce the number you have.

There are other non-medicine ways to relieve your pain. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about non-medicine options that may help.

  • National Prescribing Service Limited . Headache and migraine. NPS News 38. Sydney: NPS, 2005. British Association for the Study of Headache. Guidelines for all health professionals in the diagnosis and management of migraine, tension-type-type headache, cluster headache and medication overuse headache. Hull: BASH, 2010. (accessed 13 December 2011)
  • Neurology Writing Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: Neurology, Version 4 Updated November 2011 [eTG complete CD-ROM]. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd, 2011.
  • Brønfort G, Nilsson N, Haas M, Evans RL, Goldsmith CH, Assendelft WJJ, Bouter LM. Non-invasive physical treatments for chronic/recurrent headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD001878. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD001878.pub2.
  • Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001218. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub2.