July 13, 2005

Relaxation treatment helps teens with headaches

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Relaxation techniques appear to
help teenagers fight off frequent migraines or tension
headaches, a study shows.

After students learned relaxation techniques from either a
school nurse or graduate psychology student acting as a
therapist, they reported fewer headaches, and less intense
headaches, up to 10 months later.

Students with migraines only responded when they were
taught by therapists, but students with tension headaches
responded to relaxation teachings by both graduate students and
school nurses.

In the journal Headache, Bo Larsson and colleagues from the
Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim,
Norway write that frequent, recurring headaches are "one of the
most common health problems among adolescents."

Studies show that teenagers with frequent headaches take
more analgesic medicine, and are more likely to have physical,
social and psychological problems that arise in day-to-day

Recent studies have suggested that relaxation therapy may
help teens reduce their headaches. To investigate further,
Larsson and colleagues reviewed information collected from 7
studies, which followed 288 students between the ages of 10 and
18 for between 6 and 10 months.

During the studies, students were either trained in general
relaxation techniques or techniques to deal specifically with
headaches, or asked to talk about day-to-day problems, without
receiving any instructions about headaches.

Students who underwent relaxation training reported fewer
headaches and less severe headache pain. In addition, students
with tension headaches who were trained by therapists reported
taking fewer medications.

The authors conclude that relaxation training from
therapists was "clearly the most effective" in helping teens
avoid headaches -- but asking a school nurse to administer the
relaxation training was most "cost-effective," they add.

"Relaxation training procedures administered within school
settings may provide effective and efficient help to
adolescents suffering from long-standing and frequent
headaches," the authors write.

SOURCE: Headache, June 2005.