The last thing most parents want to do is give their child a drug. Yet, when that child is a migraineur (a person with chronic migraine headaches), as are a reported 10-28% of children under the age of 19, many feel they have no choice.
This is simply not true. In fact, most pediatric neurology specialists will recommend alternative treatments before medication for safety reasons. A number of non-drug therapies are available for pediatric migraine sufferers. As with any complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) treatment, the patient’s physician must be a part of the team making the decisions and overseeing care.
One of the most common non-drug treatment options is temperature therapy. The application of a warm or cool compress eases pain for many. Apply the hot or cold pack to the area of greatest pain, taking care to insulate it so no damage to the child’s skin occurs.
Sleep frequently eases the suffering of adult migraineurs. The duration of children’s migraines is usually shorter than that of an adult. A nap taken in a dark, quiet, area can eliminate some migraines altogether.
Scheduling can be a factor in reducing the frequency of pediatric migraines. Unlike adults, who experience stress in an acute, episodic manner, children usually experience a constant stress level, particularly during the school year. Establishing a regular routine, including time to relax and an age-appropriate sleep schedule, helps many young migraineurs.
Relaxation training, including instruction in self-hypnosis and guided imagery, is becoming the treatment of choice for recurrent pediatric migraines. Studies on the subject show that over half of the pediatric patients who learn these relaxation techniques experience less frequent migraines, but with no reduction in pain intensity when they do have one.
There are many options for pediatric migraine therapy, do not be afraid to ask the doctor about drug alternatives.