For the majority of headaches, there is no laboratory or radiology
test to determine the kind of headache it is, nor is there a way to
know which treatment will work. Two patients may describe their head
pain almost identically yet what works for one does not work for the
other, and vice versa.
What constitutes an effective treatment?
Any intervention that improves the headache in terms of frequency,
severity, or duration, without unwelcome side effects, has value. The
term treatment is not limited to any particular modality and may
include medications, bodywork, complementary medicine, counseling, and
education. If a therapeutic approach is safe for the patient, it
should be considered.
The main treatment plan categories used to manage headaches include:
Rescue – treatment when a headache is staring you in the
Prevention – treatments aimed at keeping headaches from
Lifestyle modification – strategies to identify, modify, and
eliminate triggers that can contribute to headache
Complementary medicine strategies
In general, Western and complementary medicines can be integrated
together in a treatment plan, but all plans should be developed and
discussed with your treatment team. Whether complementary approaches
are appropriate for a particular patient depends on a variety of
things including the patient, diagnosis, insurance and financial
issues, and practitioner skill and experience. Additionally,
relatively few medications are actually FDA-approved for migraine
rescue or prevention.