Neurofeedback for Migraines and Headaches

People with headaches and migraines usually experience either complete elimination or a significant reduction in symptoms after receiving neurotherapy.  Jonathan Walker published research in Clinical EEG and Neuroscience on 71 patients.  After receiving neurotherapy training, half of them completely eliminated their pain and another 39% reported significant improvements.
We have consistently seen similar results in our practice and guarantee the effectiveness of our treatment.

Although neurofeedback training can stop a migraine while it is occurring, stopping individual migraines is not the main goal. Training with neurofeedback can be very effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines over the long term providing real relief for people suffering from migraines.
Deborah Stokes, Ph.D, a neurofeedback clinician in Alexandria, VA. recently published a study that showed significant improvement in migraines using neurofeedback. The study was co-authored with Martha S. Lappin and entitled “Neurofeedback and biofeedback with 37 migraineurs: a clinical outcome study”. The study found that, with neurofeedback, 70% of migraine sufferers have a significant reduction in the frequency of their migraines.

Neurofeedback and biofeedback with 37 migraineurs: a clinical outcome study [pdf]
Deborah A Stokes, Martha S Lappin
Behavioral and Brain Functions 2010, 6:9
Background : Traditional peripheral biofeedback has grade A evidence for effectively treating migraines. Two newer forms of neurobiofeedback, EEG biofeedback and hemoencephalography biofeedback were combined with thermal handwarming biofeedback to treat 37 migraineurs in a clinical outpatient setting.
Methods : 37 migraine patients underwent an average of 40 neurofeedback sessions combined with thermal biofeedback in an outpatient biofeedback clinic. All patients were on at least one type of medication for migraine; preventive, abortive or rescue. Patients kept daily headache diaries a minimum of two weeks prior to treatment and throughout treatment showing symptom frequency, severity, duration and medications used. Treatments were conducted an average of three times weekly over an average span of 6 months. Headache diaries were examined after treatment and a formal interview was conducted. After an average of 14.5 months following treatment, a formal interview was conducted in order to ascertain duration of treatment effects.
Clin EEG Neurosci. 2011 Jan;42(1):59-61.
QEEG-guided neurofeedback for recurrent migraine headaches.
Walker JE1.
Seventy-one patients with recurrent migraine headaches, aged 17-62, from one neurological practice, completed a quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG) procedure. All QEEG results indicated an excess of high-frequency beta activity (21-30 Hz) in 1-4 cortical areas. Forty-six of the 71 patients selected neurofeedback training while the remaining 25 chose to continue on drug therapy. Neurofeedback protocols consisted of reducing 21-30 Hz activity and increasing 10 Hz activity (5 sessions for each affected site). All the patients were classified as migraine without aura. 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%). QEEG-guided neurofeedback appears to be dramatically effective in abolishing or significantly reducing headache frequency in patients with recurrent migraine.

News Coverage
NBC and ABC news stories highlight neurofeedback training for migraine treatment.
The Washington, DC affiliates for both ABC and NBC News each presented news stories describing and explaining how neurofeedback is  viable option to help with migraines. Both focused on the work of  Deborah Stokes, Ph.D, a neurofeedback clinician in Alexandria, VA.  She published a study that showed significant improvement in migraines using neurofeedback.
The NBC news story focuses on one of her patients, Anedi Edelstein, who came to Dr. Stokes after a long history of medications for migraines. She had tried 10 different prescription drugs and was concerned about the side effects of drowsiness, which could affect driving with her young children. This story discusses how her migraines were impacted by neurofeedback training and reports that she is now migraine free.
Lynn Hertel, another of Dr. Stokes’ patients, is the focus of the ABC news story. Lynn, a flute teacher, was often unable to play music because of her migraines. The migraines were so debilitating that Lynn says, “I really didn’t have a life. I just survived between migraines.”
Before trying neurofeedback, she had been though “countless treatments.” After neurofeedback training, Lynn reports that her migraines are “practically non-existent”.
Neurofeedback, which tends to reduce the number and intensity of migraines, is typically used with patients like Anedi and Lynn who have already tried a number of other options, including medications, before finding neurofeedback. neurofeedback often gives them the relief they need when other options have only provided a band-aid or come with unsatisfactory side effects.
Stokes, DA & Lappin, MS. (2010). Neurofeedback and biofeedback with 37 migraineurs: a clinical outcome study. Behavioral and Brain Functions, vol. 6 (9).