As any sufferer of migraines will tell you: they are no fun. The light and noise sensitivity, the nausea, and the visual distortions can be debilitating and there are many other possible symptoms including pins and needles, numbness and even paralysis. And the only thing worse than a migraine is a recurring migraine: sufferers experience on average one migraine every month. They can be triggered by a huge variety of factors – not just chocolate and red wine! – and for many, the trigger is a combination of factors, each of which can be individually tolerated. This makes it a complex condition to predict and to treat and as such there is a wide range of treatments available, include preventative medication. What works for one person may be no benefit to another, so it is very much up to the individual to work out what works for her (twice as many women suffer migraines as men).
Massage therapy is one option to help manage migraine episodes and can help alleviate the pain and potentially reduce the frequency of migraine headaches.
How massage therapy can help
- Tension relief. Massage, as we have written about many times, helps to relieve tension. Where the migraines are triggered by muscle tension – commonly in the neck – a massage might provide some relief
- Reduced serotonin. An abnormally low level of serotonin has been linked to migraines, and conversely massage has been shown to raise serotonin levels. So not only do you enjoy the uplifted mood brought about by higher serotonin, you might see some reduction in migraine frequency
- Easing pain signals. Massage is used to manage pain caused by a wide variety of conditions and there is no reason the same doesn’t apply for migraines
Although clinical studies on massage therapy and migraine pain are limited, there is some evidence that massage really can help migraine sufferers. In a 2006 study, a group of 47 migraine sufferers showed that those that received massage therapy as part of their treatment had reduced migraine episodes. The participants also reported better sleep during the weeks in which they received massage therapy.
Beyond pain relief massage offers many other benefits including reduced stress and anxiety, reduced muscle tension and improved flexibility and improved immune and circulatory systems.
So why not talk to your GP about supplementing your migraine medication with massage therapy. Our London massage therapists have helped many clients deal with headaches. If you suffer from migraines, adding massage to your routine may be the solution you have been looking for. There is no harm in trying – you might find a good substitute that lets you give your body a rest from medication. In the very worst case, you enjoy a relaxing massage! If you are finding that it helps, we recommend making a regular appointment and seeing if the frequency of migraine episodes is reduced.
Thanks for reading!