Can Massage Cure Migraines?Dec 04, 2014, by
Many people turn to massage for help combatting stress and muscle tension. For some people, this may also mean trying to control their migraines. But is massage really effective at treating or preventing migraines? The data is promising, but far from conclusive.
How Massage Is Used to Prevent Migraines
Massage can be used to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. Massage can help head off migraines by reducing stress and stimulating the release of neurotransmitters that are associated with lower migraine risk.
Unfortunately, we’re really lacking good evidence of the effectiveness of massage for migraines. One small study from 2006 followed 47 migraine sufferers for 13 weeks. Patients were divided evenly between the group receiving treatment and a control group. From weeks five through 10, patients were given a massage. Control group patients weren’t. Both groups reported their stress levels, and objective measures of stress–like heart rate–were also collected. The treatment group showed a marked reduction in migraine frequency and also had lower stress levels and better sleep. The positive effects continues through the end of follow-up.
How Massage Can Treat Migraines in Progress
Some people also use massage as a treatment for migraines in progress. Many migraineurs prefer not to be touched or disturbed during an attack, but others find massage soothing.
The soothing effect of massage was confirmed in a tiny study involving ten men who came in for treatment during a migraine attack. They were treated with massage, with their pain levels measured before and after the massage. These patients stated that they experienced reduced pain levels, about 69% on the visual analog scale.
Heading Off Muscle Tension
Although massage can be a great relaxer of tense muscles, how much better would it be if it were possible to prevent tension from ever developing? For some people, that’s possible. TMJ is a condition in which the jaw muscles are out of balance with the other components of the jaw, which can lead to inefficient function and additional tension in the neck and jaw. This is compounded by stress and exertion, and the muscles soreness spills over into muscles of the neck and head, leading to neck pain and headaches. TMJ treatment helps jaw muscles relax so that you experience less tension overall.