More than 25 million people in the US suffer from migraines. Migraine headaches may occur as little as a few times a year to as many as a few times a week. During a migraine headache, the pain can be so severe and literally blinding that the person may be immobilized. Migraines are often brought on by stress, poor sleep, poor diet, food allergies, low blood sugar, lack of exercise, hormonal changes and other factors.
Once thought to be caused by vascular constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, migraines are now thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that leads to inflammation of the blood vessels in the meninges (the tissues that cover the brain). When serotonin levels drop, the inflammation response is triggered leading to a migraine headache.
Pharmaceuticals that are designed to increase serotonin levels are often used to immediately treat migraine pain and also to manage migraines. Unfortunately, there are severe side effects associated with many of these medications and a physician will not prescribe any of these medications for people with heart disease. If you are taking a prescription for migraine headaches, it is important that you do not discontinue your medication without the consent and guidance of your physician, as there can be serious side effects from discontinuing some medications.
Massage therapy is a promising treatment for migraine sufferers. In a study from Annals of Behavioral Medicine, a group of migraine sufferers underwent a 13-week study that involved regular massage sessions during weeks 5-10. Compared to the control group, the massage group reported lowered frequency of migraines. In addition, sleep quality improved, cortisol levels dropped, anxiety was reduced and the massage group also exhibited better stress management.1
If you are looking for migraine relief and management without the use of drugs, call our office for an appointment.
- Lawler SP, Cameron LD. A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2006;32(1):50-59.