Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Suffering In Chronic Migraineurs: Study

Migraine Meditation

Studies Show Meditation Helps Migraineurs (1)

A study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC, and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, examined 19 adults suffering from chronic migraines in order to find the effects of mindfulness meditation on those experiencing chronic headaches and to test the safety and feasibility of such a practice.

The findings of this study were published online in journal Headache.  Such a test was conducted mainly keeping in mind the hypothesis that stress-trigger in migraines could be addressed mindfulness meditation. As per lead author of the study, Rebecca Erwin Wells, assistant professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist, “Stress is a well-known trigger for headaches and research supports the general benefits of mind/body interventions for migraines, but there hasn’t been much research to evaluate specific standardized meditation interventions”. (2)

The study however demonstrated that mindfulness meditation did indeed help alleviate migraine pains and that they were a safe way to reduce the intensity and frequency of the migraines.

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction or MBSR used yoga, mindfulness meditation and body awareness in a standardized 8-week program on the migraining volunteers. The migraineurs were divided into any of the 2 groups. They were then evaluated on disability, self-efficacy and mindfulness. After this was done, one group received conventional or mainstream migraine management care while the other group took part in the 8-week MBSR program. The MBSR program required the candidates to practice their mindfulness techniques for 45 minutes every day for at least 5 days a week. They were exposed to 1 instruction class every week as well. During this 8-week program all the participants noted how frequent their migraine episodes were, how long they lasted, how intense they were.

The researchers found that the patients who completed the MBSR program tended to have 1.4 fewer headaches per month that were less severe. Not only this, the episodes lasted less longer, were less disabling, the migraineurs felt a better sense of control over the events. Besides this, the program with its techniques proved safe as no adverse side effects were observed during the trial.

However, larger sample sizes and population with varied ethnicity, age groups, gender and socio-economic strata need to be studied for MBSR to be integrated into the mainstream and conventional treatment package for migraineurs.

According to Prof. Wells, “For the approximate 36 million Americans who suffer from migraines, there is a big need for non-pharmaceutical treatment strategies, and doctors and patients should know that MBSR is a safe intervention that could potentially decrease the impact of migraines.” (3)

SOURCES

  1. Image Credit: Woman Doing Yoga On Rock Stock Photo by Adamr; Free Digital Photos; Web September 2014; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Healthy_Living_g284-Woman_Doing_Yoga_On_Rock_p100414.html
  2. Migraine sufferers may find meditation helps; Medical News Today: Web September 2014; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282441.php
  3. Meditation May Mitigate Migraine Misery;Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – News & Media Resources; Web September 2014; http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2014/Meditation_May_Mitigate_Migraine_Misery.htm

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Sleep Quality Influences Migraine Frequency And Disability

Sleeping Woman - Migraine Blog

 

Sleep Quality Directly Effects How Often You Get Migraines (1)

Tests conducted by researchers at the University of Mississippi, U.S.A have shown a strong correlation between poor quality of sleep and the frequency of migraine episodes as well as the disabilities that go with the condition.

The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was employed in the study which tested 78 migraineurs and 208 non-migraineurs who formed the control group.

The PSQI is a tool in the form of a scoring but subjective questionnaire developed by the Sleep Medicine Institute of the University of Pittsburgh. It has questions within it’s 7 broad components on which a patient is scored, viz;

  • Subjective Sleep Quality,
  • Sleep Latency,
  • Sleep Duration,
  • Habitual Sleep Efficiency,
  • Sleep Disturbance,
  • Use of Sleep Medicines,
  • Daytime Dysfunction.

Todd Smitherman and his team found that sleep quality was significantly worse for those experiencing episodic migraines than for those in the control group. The migraining group scored an average PSQI of 8.90 as compared to 6.63 in the control group. A PSQI score more than 5 is considered significantly bad.

Factors such as depression, anxiety were adjusted for the regression analysis calculations but still it accounted for 5.3% and 5.8% of unique variance in headache frequency and disability, respectively, which the researchers say is a modest but non-trivial amount. Even when depression and anxiety factors after poor sleep quality were included in the calculations the affective symptoms did not significantly improve these analysis models beyond that of sleep quality alone which made sleep quality almost an independent and very relevant factor in assessing headache frequencies and related disabilities.

As per Smitherman, “As such, sleep quality should be assessed preferentially to other sleep disturbance variables when subjective self-report measures of insomnia are used. In light of the present findings, conclusions from systematic reviews, and practice guidelines, the most potent means of improving sleep quality and insomnia among migraineurs is likely a treatment package that incorporates stimulus control and/or sleep restriction in addition to basic sleep hygiene education and management of comorbid psychiatric symptoms.” (2)

SOURCES:

  1. Image Credits: Freedigitalphotos.net; Tired Woman by Graur Codrin; Web August 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10021635
  2. Sleep Quality A Key Contributor To Migraine Severity; MedWireNews.com (Springer Healthcare Limited); Web August 2013; http://www.medwirenews.com/44/104664/General_neurology/Sleep_quality_a_key_contributor_to_migraine_severity_.html
  •  Abstract of the research may be had at:

Sleep Disturbance and Affective Comorbidity Among Episodic Migraineurs; Wiley Online Library; Web August 2013; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/head.12168/abstract

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Bridging the Gaping Divide With Pain Self-management Tools

Most migraineurs are aware that the medical fraternity has yet not arrived at the cause of migraines. We know of triggers and the way the pain unfolds or what happens inside of the brain hours before, during and after a migraine episode but are still clueless about what causes migraines and why or how the pain stops.

Though a good number of migraineurs do consult a ‘migraine specialist’ or a ‘headache specialist’ after enduring the onslaught of merciless pain years after they first experienced their episodes, they often take back selective important tips back from the doctor’s office. A relatively new program called painACTION.com developed by Inflexxion now offers many tools to the migraineur that can help them manage their symptoms better when they are out of the doctor’s office and back into their lives.

Better Pain Management With Online Self-help Application (1)

This free and non-promotional program is available online and is believed to be especially beneficial to those who are chronic migraineurs. The tool was studied by researchers at Inflexxion using 185 participants to test the clinical efficacy of this web-based program. The program uses various symptom-based management techniques and offers a wide range of tips on relaxation and on getting support groups, doing daily activities to do etc.

It was observed that those who used the program reported better stress and pain management skills, were more confident in their ability to handle an episode. The study as well as it’s findings were reported in the medical journal The Journal of Head and Face Pain, titled ‘A Randomized Trial of a Web-based Intervention to Improve Migraine Self-Management and Coping’. (2)

According to the lead author and researcher, Jonas Bromberg, PsyD, Director of Health Communications and Senior Research Scientist at Inflexxion, “Self-management training should help patients learn how to identify, avoid, and manage headache triggers, and learn to perform other essential prevention, management, and coping behaviors. The integration of behavioral support in the medical care of migraine is essential in helping people with migraine to manage their condition more effectively, safely manage their prescription pain medications, avoid disease progression, and reduce the high cost of migraine and migraine-related disability to individuals and society.” (3)

This free online program is particularly beneficial to those who live and work in areas which do not have easy or ready access to neurologists, mental health support services or behavioural experts.

SOURCES:

  1. Image by Jeroen van Oostrom; Freedigitalphotos.net; February 2012;  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=413
  2. Technical report of the study may be accessed at: A Randomized Trial of a Web-Based Intervention to Improve Migraine Self-Management and Coping; Wiley Online Library; February 2012; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2011.02031.x/abstract
  3. Migraine Self-Management Improved And Migraine-Related Psychological Distress Reduced By painACTION.com; Medi Lexicon News; February 2012; http://www.medilexicon.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=241832

The web-based program may be accessed through this link: http://painaction.com/

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