Massage and Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches cause severe pain and often incapacitate those who suffer from them. Migraines are commonly associated with extreme sensitivity to light and sound, as well as with nausea and vomiting. The pain and corresponding symptoms can debilitate sufferers for hours or even days. The causes of migraine headaches are not easily understood, and the medical community has struggled for decades to provide effective treatment options.

Recently, The American Migraine Study revealed that migraine headaches affect more than two times as many women as men, and it is estimated that migraines affect 13 percent of the U.S. population. The study also found a marked increase in the use of over the counter pain medication and that less than half of those surveyed had received a diagnosis from a doctor. Prescription medications for treatment and prevention of migraine pain have been marginally successful, and because the root causes are not defined, there is no cure at this time.

The diminishing effects that migraines have on one’s quality of life are staggering. The survey sheds light on the disturbingly high percentage of migraine sufferers who report experiencing severe or extreme pain. Eighty percent of respondents answered that they regularly experienced this level of pain. More than half of those surveyed said that their productivity was reduced by 50% or more after the onset of a migraine headache and nearly 40% reported symptoms so severe that they remained confined to bed for several hours and in some cases, days at a time.

Medical research has identified some possible causes of migraine headaches, although there is not sufficient evidence to name a definitive reason for this condition. Some factors that can trigger migraines are hormonal changes, stress, diet, changes in sleeping patterns, overexertion, certain medications and sensory stimuli. It has also been noted that family history and gender can play a large role in developing migraine headaches. Those with a family history of migraine and young females are much more likely to experience this condition.

Many people are choosing to combine alternative therapies with traditional medication. Massage therapy has been heralded as an effective treatment for the prevention of migraine headaches. There are a variety of massage techniques that can benefit a wide range of sufferers. Deep tissue massage can aid in relief of headaches that are caused by muscle tension of the head and neck. This technique gently increases pressure on the muscle, releasing tension and effecting relaxation. Trigger point, or neuromuscular massage is effective in treating headache pain that results from nerve compression. By relaxing nerve tissue and relieving compression, the body is better able to release tension. Craniosacral massage is another option and is performed on the skull and scalp. A massage therapist gently massages the head in order to calm nerve endings and reduce the intensity of the pain signals they send to the brain.

If you suffer from migraine headaches, it is important to seek professional treatment regularly and to consider all available options. Don’t be discouraged if you do not experience immediate or lasting relief. Often, a combination of traditional and alternative therapies can be effective in managing migraine pain and a healthier lifestyle with a focus on stress management can aid in the prevention and reduction of migraines.

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