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Placebo Sugar Pills Shown to Work as Well as Drugs for Children With Migraines

A new study may lead some pain management professionals to rethink how they treat children with migraines. This, after they found that placebo sugar pills work as well at preventing kids’ migraines as two commonly used headache drugs.

First Test of its Kind

It was the first rigorous test in kids of two generic prescription drugs: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce the number of days kids had migraines over a month’s time.

More: Migraine Warning Signs Differ in Kids

The study included about 300 kids aged 8 to 17. They had 11 migraines on average per month before the study began and were randomly assigned to take either of the drugs or placebo pills daily for six months.

Both drugs worked well — but so did placebo sugar pills.

Results Send a Clear Message to Doctors

The results “really challenge what is typical practice today by headache specialists,” said study author Scott Powers, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s headache center.

Researcher says that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a sugar pill makes a clear statement: Drugs shouldn’t be the first-line prevention. Other prevention strategies should be utilized before medication is prescribed. Some of these strategies include simple lifestyle changes — getting more sleep and reducing stress.

More: Top Drinks That Trigger Headaches and Migraines in Kids

Migraines in Kids and Teens are Common

Up to 10% of U.S. school-aged kids have migraines. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines including ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce symptoms. The only government-approved migraine medication for kids is topiramate, which is known by the brand names Topamax and Qudexy, but it is only approved for those 12 and up.

Side effects from the drugs were common, including fatigue, dry mouth and forgetfulness. The group who took the placebo, of course, had no side effects.

More: Excessive Gum Chewing Linked to Migraines in Teens

Southern California Treatment for Pain – Headaches, Migraines, TMJ, and More

Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.