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Migraines and Massage

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 4 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Massage Craniosacral Accupressure Pain

Whether or not you are taking prescription and over-the-counter medications for migraine relief you might find that alternative treatments are helpful in managing migraine headaches. One such treatment is massage therapy. Massage in general is suggested for stress relief and stress is considered a trigger of migraine headaches.

A recent study examining the effect of massage therapy on migraine suggested very positive results. The massage therapy subjects reported fewer distress symptoms, less pain, more headache free days and fewer sleep disturbances. They also showed an increase in serotonin levels.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that is important in reducing pain. Prior to a migraine episode, serotonin levels have been noted as high in migraine patients versus non-migraine. The idea is that a relaxing massage can decrease stress, promote well being and help reduce migraine frequency and pain.

When A Migraine Attacks

At the onset of a migraine, try massaging your own face, head, neck and shoulders, or have a friend or family member perform the massage. Having someone else massage you is helpful for hard to reach areas such as the back. It's also important to relax your muscles and try to get as comfortable as possible.

Massage Techniques To Try Yourself

There are many different books available for massage techniques. The following techniques are for alleviating migraine pain:

  • Place your thumbs on each side of the spine, in the hollows between the neck muscles just below the base of the skull. Tilt your head back and press firmly for two to three minutes, breathing deeply.

  • Press the web between your thumb and forefinger with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand. Press hard for one minute, breathing deeply and then repeat with the other hand.

    Professional Massage Therapy

    If you do decide to try massage with a registered therapist, there are various forms available and it can be a little daunting perhaps in choosing one. You may find it's a case of experimentation where you attempt several before finding one that is effective.

    Craniosacral Therapy

    In this form of massage, a therapist gently massages your skull bones and your scalp. The aim is to soothe the nerves and reduce migraine pain as it occurs.

    Deep-Tissue Massage Therapy

    In deep-tissue massage therapy, the massage therapist uses pressure and stretching to reduce tension in the body. Deep-tissue massages are proported to improve circulation and help reduce muscle tension. Typically, a deep tissue massage therapist focuses on specific areas of the body to relieve pain through the use of deep finger pressure and slow strokes.

    Accupressure

    Accupressure techniques involve the application of soft finger pressure to various points on the head. It is thought that accupressure can help migraine sufferers by easing muscle tension and promoting better blood circulation.

    Massage should be performed by a qualified and trained massage therapist. He or she will attempt to address the various symptoms that may contribute to migraine pain. A massage therapist may also perform massage in conjunction with hydrotherapy or essential oils such as lavender or peppermint.

    Addressing stress and physical aches with a massage may provide wonderful results for those who suffer from migraines and at the very least, will hopefully provide a respite from a stressful day.

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