I am all too familiar with the pain and life changes that come with a chronic pain condition such as migraine. Some days, you feel like yourself, other days you feel like the Walter Matthau or Jack Lemmon characters from Grumpy Old Men. Other days are, of course, worse. I had migraine for more than 20 years. I prefer the term head pain because I think it more aptly captures the significant interplay of pain associated with migraine, which extends well beyond just a bad headache.
The great news is that neurofeedback (NFB) helps with head pain. I had already been through so much treatment by the time I discovered NFB that I really had no expectations -- if it helped, great -- if not, that would be OK too. At the time I began NFB treatment I was taking a heavy daily dose of an anti-seizure medication used to treat head pain. To my amazement, NFB eliminated head pain from my life. During NFB treatment, I worked with my doctor to gradually step-down my medication. Within about 8 months of beginning NFB, my head pain was gone, it has never returned, and I have remained medication-free.
When you live with a chronic pain condition, you get accustomed to not feeling well. It gets hard to maintain hope. Three years into the head pain, a doctor told me I was likely to have that level of head pain the rest of my life. Gratefully, that prognosis did not determine my outcome. Never stop trying to address your pain. When it comes to head pain, NFB can help!
Below is a link to a randomized controlled study that shows the following:
For the neurofeedback group the majority (54%) experienced complete cessation of their migraines, and many others (39%) experienced a reduction in migraine frequency of greater than 50%. Four percent experienced a decrease in headache frequency of <50%. Only one patient did not experience a reduction in headache frequency. The control group of subjects who chose to continue drug therapy as opposed to neurofeedback experienced no change in headache frequency (68%), a reduction of less than 50% (20%), or a reduction greater than 50% (8%).
Why combine counseling and neurofeedback (NFB)? Neurofeedback can effectively address the brain imbalances that we see with issues such as depression and anxiety. But, is that it? Typically, not. Once these issues begin to subside, other issues can take center stage. We all get into patterns of behavior – some are adaptive and some less so. Combining NFB and counseling provides a window of opportunity to address long-standing brain imbalances and to then wholly deal with relationship and other issues that may have resulted from those imbalances. The goal is a truly healthy, full life. The more tools you can use to effectively heal, the better!
JoAnne McFarland O'Rourke