Treatments for Headaches That Don't Involve Drugs

There are many different types of headaches, including cluster headaches, tension headaches, and migraines. As many as 75% of the global population have had a headache in the last year, and as many as 4% of the population have headaches 15+ days each month. 

While medication can be used to treat severe cases, it’s not your only option. If you are dealing with chronic headaches, you’re not limited to just medication. Barry Hughes, DC and our team at Premier Chiropractic are experienced in diagnosing and treating headaches

If you’re looking for non-drug treatments, keep reading. We’ll explore the top treatments as well as how we can help you get the relief you need.

At-home remedies to ease headache pain without medication

There are two types of headache medication: drugs that prevent headaches and drugs that stop a headache once it’s in progress. In this section, we’ll explore the at-home remedies that you can try if you already have a headache.

Ice packs

Ice packs and cold compresses are well-known for easing headache pain. That’s because the coldness helps to restrict blood vessels and limit the pain signals being sent to the brain. Cold therapy isn’t limited to an ice pack on your forehead, though. Studies show that frozen compresses applied to the back of your neck can ease migraine pain. 

Depending on where you feel pain, you can also find frozen eye masks that cover your forehead and eyes for soothing comfort.


According to an article published in Scientific American, a quick jaunt on a stationary bike can also reduce the pain of a headache in progress. Exercise increases the production of pain-relieving neurotransmitters. Why the bike? Biking eliminates the jostling of jogging, which could be uncomfortable if you have a headache.

Drinking a caffeinated drink

Did you know that some headache medication contains caffeine? Some people find that drinking a moderate-sized cup of coffee can help ease a throbbing headache.

A word of caution: headaches can also be caused by caffeine withdrawal, so be sure to keep your caffeine consumption to a moderate level. 

Treating and preventing headaches 

While there are some daily medications designed to prevent headaches, not everyone wants to take daily medication. The good news is that there are many options for preventing headaches. Here is a sample of non-drug treatments that can help keep future headaches at bay:

Nutritional counseling

What you eat affects your mental and physical well-being. Your diet can also contribute to frequent headaches. According to the American Migraine Foundation, some common dietary triggers include red wine, beer, chocolate, MSG, and meats that contain nitrates. Nutritional counseling can help you pinpoint your triggers, learn how to avoid them, and discover nutrient-dense foods that support your overall health.

Chiropractic care

According to the American Chiropractic Association, most primary headaches are caused by muscle tension. Sedentary lifestyles, working at a desk, poor posture, and craning your neck over a table or phone all contribute to neck tension.  

Chiropractic care can help relieve muscle tension and improve your spinal function to help eliminate headaches caused by neck pain and muscle tension in your upper back and neck. Spinal manipulation and chiropractic adjustments alleviate the stress on your neck.

Physical therapy

According to a 2014 review published in the Journal of the Japanese Physical Therapy Association, physical therapy can be an effective way to manage and prevent tension headaches.

Self-care practices

Good self-care practices can also help reduce the frequency of headaches. This includes getting enough sleep each night and drinking enough water. A lack of sleep and dehydration are both linked to increased risk of headaches. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. 

Tip: You may need more water if you live in a hot climate or if you’ve been physically active. 

If you are struggling with headaches and want to explore your non-drug options, call our Pearland, Texas, office at 281-223-1172. Whether you’re interested in physical therapy, chiropractic care, or lifestyle tips, we can help you get the non-invasive headache treatment you deserve. You can also request an appointment online today.

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