London: The belief that exercise may be as good as drugs in staving off migraines - the excruciating headaches - seems to be validated by latest research. A typical migraine affects half of the head and is pulsating in nature, lasting from four to 72 hours. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (over sensitivity to light) and phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound).

Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden analysed how well exercise works as a preventative treatment for migraines, relative to relaxation exercises and drug topiramate.

“Our conclusion is that exercise can act as an alternative to relaxations and topiramate when it comes to preventing migraines,” said Emma Varkey, physiotherapist and doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy who carried out the study.

It involved 91 migraine patients, a third of whom were asked to exercise for 40 minutes thrice weekly under supervision, with another third doing relaxation exercises, and the final third given topiramate, according to an academy statement.

The study lasted three months during which the patients' migraine status, quality of life, aerobic capacity and level of physical activity were evaluated before, during and after their treatment.

The results showed that the number of migraines fell in all three groups. Interestingly, there was no difference in the preventative effect between the three treatments.

(Agencies)