Exercise, Treatment

Trying New Treatments: A Long, Long List

Physical therapy, craniosacral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, tai chi, pilates, meditation, chiropractic. While my migraines were too bad to keep appointments this fall, I kept a running list of the new treatments and therapies I’d like to try.

I have fantasies of doing nothing else than jumping in and trying all these therapies at once. They’d have to add up to more than 40 hours a week. Reality quickly usurps the fantasy: No blog, no decent meals, no organizing and downsizing. You know, all the other activities of my life.

Prioritizing treatments is more challenging than it seems.

  • My massage therapist’s physical therapist has aborted her migraines and his techniques are different than I’ve had in the past. No question I’m seeing him as soon as possible..
  • I tried a bit of craniosacral last year and the results were promising, so that’s in.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback and hypnotherapy have common threads. With my depression, cognitive behavioral therapy is the natural starting point. I expect that biofeedback and hypnotherapy will flow from that.
  • Tai chi, pilates and meditation also have similarities. I want to exercise more and learn to be mentally quiet. Pilates is more about relieving pain in my lower back, but tai chi is the perfect fit.
  • Chiropractic is last on my list. Last year’s attempt was a
    , but I’m planning to see a different chiropractor, whose approach
    is quite different than the one I saw last spring. Still, having not
    been effective in the past, I’m in no rush to try it.

Choosing one from each group leaves me with physical therapy, craniosacral, cognitive behavioral therapy and tai chi. Is that still too much? Combined with myofascial release and a yoga home practice, which are having good results, I’m afraid I’m overdoing it.

In fact, I know I am. This “narrowed” list would require appointments four days a week plus three tai chi classes. Ha! Like that’s possible. But they all seem absolutely necessary.

I’m stuck. What do you recommend?

9 thoughts on “Trying New Treatments: A Long, Long List”

  1. Hi Kerrie,

    I’ve tried craniosacral therapy (CT) with different therapists: One was really good and was able to reduce my migraine frequency, while other CT therapists just made me feel calm for a day.
    So my advice would be: Shop around for a good CT therapist. I have tried 4 so far and found there was a big difference in how each therapist worked with my head.

    I used to have daily headaches, but now I ‘only’ get migraines about 1-2 days a week. This is because I tried an elimination diet for about 3 weeks where I introduced different foods over time and wrote down the effects of the foods. Not just if I got a headache, but also if the food made me tired or feel cold. – I easily get cold hands/feet. With the diet change I don’t feel as cold as I did before.
    BTW – I did this without the help of doctor Buchholz:-)

    2008 is Yoga and meditation year for me!
    I bought the article about yoga and migraine from the Headache Journal and I’ve invested in a Neti pot and do nosewashes with saline water each night followed by pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing). I used to be sleepy and drowsy in the morning, but this pranayama thing makes me feel totally fresh and alert in the morning.

    Best wishes from here,

  2. I must admit I’ve tried every “technique” you mention- and some have helped me feel better but none have cured any pain or illness. (Only traditional medicine has done that for me!) I think we have to look for options — it helps us to drive our bus. But exploring means keeping a “beginners mind”. We can’t go in with unrealistic expectations but we also have to be prepare to leave if our intentions aren’t fulfilled. Rosalind

  3. well i’ll add another voice to the crowd: i had low-back pain which led to spasms and low-grade headaches. i started doing daily pilates (after a class from a certified teacher, not a video) and have much fewer problems and hardly any pain from it. i highly recommend it. obviously it hasn’t helped my migraines, but things would be much worse w/o pilates for me.

    i’d suggest trying them all, but just one at a time (for 2-3 months each). otherwise, it’s impossible to tell which is achieving results and which is not. just my 2 cents.

  4. Hi Kerrie,

    I would recommend trying one or two things first before moving on to the next ones. That way you will not overtax yourself and possibly stress out, causing another headache. Also, if you get positive results, you may not need the others. I would vote for the physical therapy and yoga. Migraine is so individual. What works for one person may not work for another, but PT and yoga can’t hurt. I have personally found them useful.

    Second thing is that I find any exercise or relaxation technique is useful if I do it regularly. My neurologist says it has to do with getting oxygen into the blood vessels. Anyway, I do my physical therapy exercises daily plus something like waIlking or using an elliptical trainer for 30 minutes. Twice a week I teach and train in Naginata, a Japanese martial art similar to Kendo. It is like fencing and it requires a lot of concentration and involves the whole body. I have gone to practice with a headache and had it disappear by the end of the session. It also gets rid of the neck and shoulder stiffness. My husband and I teach Naginata on Mercer Island at the Community Center on Saturdays. Our new session starts this weekend. If you are interested, contact me for details. You are welcome to come and watch sometime.

    But, really, just try doing something every day, even if you have a headache. Sometimes just getting outside and walking a bit helps. Good luck!


  5. Hi Kerrie,
    My experience has been:

    no help: biofeedback, tai chi, physical therapy,craniosacral therapy

    negative result: neureofeedback (like biofeedback, but hooked to a computer),

    helpful: pilates and yoga

    absolutely necessary: CBT (or some type of therapy, mine is more psychodynamic), meditation

    haven’t tried: hypnotherapy

    If I had to chose only one practice to continue, I’d stay with meditation. It’s literally changed my life. I also suffer with depression and without meditation, I don’t know if I would have survived certain periods of time. If you go the meditation route, I’d suggest taking some classes to find what type of meditation you prefer. I study vipassana, or insight meditation, and love it, but there are other types and you need the right fit.

    Keep us posted,

    Kelly McEnaney

  6. I feel torn. Every time I select even one treatment to suggest cutting out, I stop myself because they are all so valuable to you. Is it possible for you to keep all of them and stagger your appointments, such that you see every provider every two weeks? That way, you could manage your schedule so you “only” have two appointments each week. And can you skip one tai chi class each week? I hope so.

    If not, I have no recommendations. You may just need to keep all the modalities for now, to gain an updated sense of which ones are most beneficial to you. Then you could cut them one by one, starting with those that are not improving your life as much as the others.

    I hate that you are dealing with this, but I am very glad you’re so active in your own treatment.


  7. There’s a tai chi place in Seattle I’ve been wanting to try, but it’s not an easy drive from the eastside. Have you heard of it? http://www.embracethemoon.com

    That said, my advice would be to just try one treatment at a time in the order you have them listed here. Try the one you feel the most optimistic about, or are the most excited about. Give it some time, see how you’re feeling, and then add another. The risk with trying everything at once (other than getting overwhelmed) is that if you start feeling better, you won’t know what is actually making the difference.

    Hope this helps.

    Funny, I wrote about Embrace the Moon today! I plan to start there next week.

    If you’re looking for a good place on the eastside, I recommend Yoga Centers. I don’t think they have tai chi classes, but the style of yoga they teach is mindful and physically very safe. http://www.yogacenters.com/

    Take care,

  8. Hi- I found your journal through a mention in a headache forum on live journal and signed up. I’ve been living with migraines since I was two (well, that’s what my folks tell me- too young to remember) and that was a very long time ago. I appreciate your posts because they are insightful, well-researched, and personal. If I had to recommend a new treatment, I would suggest biofeedback. It takes a while to master but it’s relatively easy to start to put into practice and it can make a difference in managing the pain and being able to participate more in life. I started learning/practicing when I was in second grade and I still use the songs and rhymes I made up back then to this day. Sometimes when you find yourself lying down, needing to get a grip but spiraling out of control, biofeedback can help pull you back from the ledge. Thank you again for your blogging. I look forward to reading more posts.

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