Efficacy of psychological treatment for headache disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lee HJ, Lee JH, Cho EY, Kim SM Yoon S.

BACKGROUND: Headache disorder is not only a common complaint but also a global burden. Pharmacotherapeutic and non-pharmacotherapeutic approaches have been developed for its treatment and prophylaxis. The present study included a systematic review of psychological treatments for primary headache disorder accessible in Korea.

METHODS: We included English and Korean articles from EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cochrane library database, SCOPUS, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsycArticles and Korean database, KoreaMed and KMBASE which studied primary headache and medication-overuse headache. The primary efficacy measure was the number of headache days per month, while secondary efficacy measures were the number of headache attacks per week, headache index, treatment response rate, and migraine disability assessment. The meta-analysis was performed using R 3.5.1. to obtain pooled mean difference and pooled relative risk with 95% confidence interval (CI) for continuous data and dichotomous data, respectively.

RESULTS: From 12,773 identified articles, 27 randomized clinical trials were identified. Primary outcome showed significant superiority of psychological treatments (pooled mean difference = - 0.70, 95% CI [- 1.22, - 0.18]). For the secondary outcomes, the number of headache attacks (pooled mean difference = - 1.15, 95% CI [- 1.63, - 0.67]), the headache index (pooled mean difference = - 0.92, 95% CI [- 1.40 to - 0.44]) and the treatment response rate (pooled relative risk = 3.13, 95% CI [2.24, 4.37]) demonstrated significant improvements in the psychological treatment group over the control group.

CONCLUSION: Psychological treatments for primary headache disorder reduced headache frequency and the headache index. Future research using standardized outcome measures and strategies for reducing bias is needed.

Survey on treatments for primary headaches in 13 specialized juvenile Headache Centers: The first multicenter Italian study. Toldo I1, Rattin M2, Perissinotto E3, De Carlo D4, Bolzonella B5, Nosadini M6, Rossi LN7, Vecchio A8, Simonati A9, Carotenuto M10, Scalas C11, Sciruicchio V12, Raieli V13, Mazzotta G14, Tozzi E15, Valeriani M16, Cianchetti C17, Balottin U18, Guidetti V19, Sartori S20, Battistella PA21. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2017 May;21(3):507-521

AIM: The purpose of this retrospective multicenter study was to evaluate the use and the self-perceived efficacy and tolerability of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments in children and adolescents with primary headaches.

METHODS: Study of a cohort of children and adolescents diagnosed with primary headache, consecutively referred to 13 juvenile Italian Headache Centers. An ad hoc questionnaire was used for clinical data collection.

RESULTS: Among 706 patients with primary headaches included in the study, 637 cases with a single type of headache (migraine 76% – with and without aura in 10% and 67% respectively; tension-type headache 24%) were selected (mean age at clinical interview: 12 years). Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (in particular ibuprofen) were commonly used to treat attacks, by 76% and 46% of cases respectively. Triptans were used overall by 6% of migraineurs and by 13% of adolescents with migraine, with better efficacy than acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Preventive drugs were used by 19% of migraineurs and by 3% of subjects with tension-type headache. In migraineurs, flunarizine was the most frequently used drug (18%), followed by antiepileptic drugs (7%) and pizotifen (6%), while cyproheptadine, propanolol and amitriptyline were rarely used. Pizotifen showed the best perceived efficacy and tolerability. Melatonin and nutraceuticals were used by 10% and 32% of subjects, respectively, both for migraine and tension-type headache, with good results in terms of perceived efficacy and tolerability. Non-pharmacological preventive treatments (i.e. relaxation techniques, biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, acupuncture) were used only by 10% of cases (migraine 9%, tension-type headache 15%).

DISCUSSION: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, especially ibuprofen, should be preferred to acetaminophen for acute attacks of migraine or tension-type headache, because they were usually more effective and well tolerated. Triptans could be used more frequently as first or almost second choice for treating migraine attack in adolescents. Non-pharmacological preventive treatments are recommended by some pediatric guidelines as first-line interventions for primary headaches and their use should be implemented in clinical practice. Prospective multicenter studies based on larger series are warranted to better understand the best treatment strategies for young people with primary headaches.

A review of the treatment of primary headaches. Part I: Migraine. Leone M1, Grazzi L, D’Amico D, Moschiano F, Bussone G. Ital J Neurol Sci. 1995 Dec;16(9):577-86

Finding the best treatment for a patient’s migraine is often a problem in clinical practice since the condition is very common, often debilitating and may prove refractory to therapy. Over recent years, more effective migraine treatments have been found and validated, and the traditional remedies have undergone controlled testing. This article reviews the various therapies available for both the acute treatment and prevention of migraine. Treatments often effective against migraine attacks are: aspirin, analgesics, non steroid antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ergot derivatives and sumatriptan. Five main classes of prophylactic drug are currently used: beta-blockers, calcium antagonists, serotonin modulators, NSAIDs and ergot compounds. Biofeedback, one of the most efficacious non-pharmacological preventive treatments of migraine, is also discussed. The variables influencing the choice of acute and preventive treatments, including contriandications and drug availability, are also described in order to provide a practical and up-to-date guide to migraine therapy.

A therapeutic alternative for tension headache in children: treatment and 1-year follow-up results. Grazzi L1, Leone M, Frediani F, Bussone G. Biofeedback Self Regul. 1990 Mar;15(1):1-6

Ten young subjects, ranging in age from 12 to 15 years, suffering from tension headache were treated by electromyographic biofeedback (EMG-BFB) twice a week for 12 sessions. The Pain Total Index (PTI) was recorded every month from the beginning to the end of the treatment. At the end of the treatment the PTI decreased significantly in all our patients and, at the same time, the muscular tension values also decreased. This result supports the hypothesis of a correlation between clinical symptom and muscular tension level. We saw our patients for follow-up sessions, and the clinical improvement was confirmed to 1 year from the completion of the treatment; however, the muscular tension values were increased with respect to the last-session values.