What techniques are used to relieve stress in the treatment of pediatric headache?

Updated: Jan 02, 2019
  • Author: J Ivan Lopez, MD, FAAN, FAHS; Chief Editor: George I Jallo, MD  more...
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Stress, as a trigger and as a consequence of headache, is a logical target for nonpharmacologic therapy. Patients who are prone to tension headaches should attempt to minimize stress and may benefit from behavioral/relaxation therapy. Psychotherapy is indicated for any patient under significant stress. Consider family therapy in situations that involve divorce or illness of a sibling or when the family unit is a contributing factor.

Relaxation techniques with biofeedback of either cutaneous temperature with a finger probe or muscular contraction with an electromyography (EMG) needle are very helpful as adjunct therapy; they can even prevent headache on their own in the older child, granted that adequate cooperation can be obtained. Recommended treatment is 2-3 times weekly for 4-8 weeks. Usually, a physical therapist, or sometimes a psychologist with cognitive-behavioral skills, performs this therapy.

Regular physical activity can also reduce patient stress levels and is especially useful in cases of tension-type headache.

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