Alternative and Complementary Approaches to Migraine and Cluster Headaches
Alternative Approaches to Headaches Introduction
In the United States, the field of alternative and complementary medicine is growing rapidly and includes the treatment of many health conditions, including pain. In 2002, according to a government survey of approximately 31,000 people, more than a third of American adults used such practices. This was the largest study on unconventional medical approaches in the United States. If prayer is included as an alternative form of therapy, then approximately 62% of American adults are using some form of nonconventional treatment.
Alternative and complementary medicine includes such practices as acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, meditation, herbs, homeopathy, and manipulation, to name but a few. Another term, which reflects the use of these therapies within the concepts of Western medical practice, is integrative medicine. Many physicians who are board-certified in their respective specialties, and who have sought additional training in alternative and complementary care, prefer to use this term because it encompasses the best of both worlds in the overall management of a patient.
Over the last decade, integrative medical practices have increasingly been used for the management of chronic pain. This article provides a general overview of the more commonly used integrative medical approaches for the management of pain, specifically the pain of migraine and cluster headaches.
Robert A Hauser, MD
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Although migraine is a term applied to certain headaches with a vascular quality, overwhelming evidence suggests that migraine is a dominantly inherited disorder characterized by varying degrees of recurrent vascular-quality headache, photophobia, sleep disruption, and depression.