A new study suggests an effective treatment for children with recurrent migraine headaches. Kids who suffer migraines miss school and social activities, but the FDA has not approved any drugs to treat youngsters with chronic migraine.

Scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital studied the effect of ten cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions combined with the antidepressant drug amitriptyline. cognitive behavioral therapy allows sufferers to learn specific ways of modifying their physiological and psychological responses to the pain of a migraine headache.  As a control group, the researchers offered one group of participants ten headache education sessions along with amitriptyline. In this way, the comparison allowed investigators to determine how well CBT works.

The 135 subjects all had more than 15 days a month with migraine and were ages 10 to 17 years old. They were randomly assigned to their treatment groups. After five months, the group that went through cognitive behavioral therapy had 11.5 fewer headache days per month, on average, compared to the control group with 6.8 fewer days suffering migraines. The headache severity scores also dropped significantly more in the CBT + amitriptyline group. The effect lasted throughout the year-long follow-up period, with 88 percent of the intervention group only mild headaches. In the control group, 76 percent reported mild headache scores.

[JAMA, Dec. 25, 2013]   

There is more information about treatments for head pain in our Guide to Headaches & Migraines.

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