Treating Stress Key for Kids with Migraine

January 18, 2014
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Treating Stress Key for Kids with Migraine Children with migraine experienced significant reductions in headache frequency after receiving cognitive behavioral therapy in a new study. Researchers found that kids treated with cognitive behavioral therapy plus medication had 4.7 fewer headache days per month, compared to kids treated with medication plus patient education. Overall, two thirds of children experienced at least a 50% decrease in headache frequency compared to just a 36% decrease in the patient education group.

Parents often prefer migraine medication for their child’s treatment, despite that the evidence on the issue is lacking, the study authors pointed out. The preference for drugs may actually inhibit treatment, according to Michael Connelly, PhD, who wrote an accompanying editorial for the study, as reported by MedPage Today.

“Migraine in particular … is a stress-sensitive condition,” explained study author Scott W. Powers, of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Migraine is amenable to changing how kids perceive pain, how they manage their stress, the type of coping strategies that they have. Those types of strategies are actually changing or transforming the perception of pain in some ways.”

Powers and his colleagues recruited 135 children and adolescents to participate in a study comparing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and patient education (all patients also received medication). One year after the start of the study, kids in the CBT group had an average of 9.8 headache days per month compared to 14.5 days in the education group.

The results confirm the importance of addressing stress in managing migraine headache and chronic pain. Not only can chiropractic relieve headache in kids, studies show that chiropractic adjustments can assist the body’s response to stress and inflammation. When treating your child, chiropractors take into account both the mental and physical components of chronic pain. This will ensure your child has a holistic approach to headache treatment for the lasting, effective relief.

This study comes at the heels of another new study demonstrating that lifestyle habits like chewing gum can also exacerbate or even causes headaches in children and teenagers.



Gever J. Cognitive Therapy helps kids with migraine. Medpage Today.

Powers et al. Cognitive behavioral therapy plus amitriptyline for chronic migraine in children and adolescents: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2013. 310(24):2622-2630. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.282533.