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A New Prescription For Migraine Treatment: Exercise
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A New Prescription for Migraine Treatment: Exercise

More than thirty million Americans suffer with migraines, some debilitating to the point of needing surgery to help treat them. For many of those sufferers, nothing works to dull the pain of their migraines while others may find some relief through methods that range from prescription medications to relaxation therapies. For years, researchers have also theorized that exercise may offer some relief for the average migraine sufferer but there has been little documented proof of this theory. Now a new study has been completed that looks at exercise as a preventative tool to those who are prone to migraines.

In the study performed by researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, exercise was proven to be as effective as either prescription medications or relaxation therapy techniques. The study, involving 91 adults with diagnosed migraines was a randomized, controlled study with the participants divided in to three groups. Group one was asked to exercise under the supervision of a physiotherapist for a period of forty minutes, three times each week. The second group was given a prescription medication commonly used to treat migraines while the third group was asked to use specific relaxation therapies also commonly used for migraine treatment and relief. All three groups were asked to commit to their chosen treatment for three months and then were evaluated with follow up appointments at three months and six months after that initial three months ended. During the process, the participants were asked to fill out surveys related to their migraine status, their quality of life during and after a migraine attack and their aerobic capacity. Each was also asked about their particular level of physical activity as well.

For years, exercise has been avoided by people who suffer from migraines because of concerns that it would make their symptoms worse. However, this and other studies have shown that certain exercises can alleviate some of the pain and other symptoms associated with them and may also improve aerobic capacity.

At the conclusion of the study, the three groups were assessed for improvement in their migraine status with the same level of progress reached for all three. The conclusion reached by the researchers was that exercise could be used in place of any of the other suggested forms of treatment for migraine. Next up for researchers will be studies to determine the link between migraine pain relief and increased aerobic capacity.

In 2009, a study was conducted that looked at surgical treatment for migraines, concluding that in some cases, the most drastic approach was the only one that legitimately worked. In that study, only a small percentage of people did not find relief after the surgery which isolated and treated the trigger areas in the brain. In some cases, new trigger areas developed after the surgery was completed. However, nearly ninety percent of the people in the surgical study had at least some positive results with nearly thirty percent reporting a permanent elimination of their migraine symptoms.


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