For people who have never experienced a migraine, it's not uncommon to think it's just a headache. Patients living with this condition know it has the potential to be completely debilitating, and that treatment options are few and far between. Learn how massage therapy can aid in migraine relief.
What is Migraine?
Once thought to be attributable to the dilation and constriction of blood vessels within the cranium, researchers now believe migraine to be a neurological disorder that involves brain chemistry and the neural pathways. The condition does tend to run in families, but environmental factors play a significant role in migraines as well.
More than a mere headache, migraines include a host of neurological symptoms that can be completely debilitating for patients living with the condition. Other symptoms can include:
- Visual disturbances
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme sensitivity to light, smell, sound and touch
- Sensations of numbness and/or tingling in the face or extremities
It's important to note that while these symptoms are common among migraine sufferers, they can vary widely from one patient to the next. In fact, a single patient can experience different symptoms from one attack to the next. It's the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting up to a billion men, women and children around the world. Patients who live with chronic migraines often experience depression, anxiety and disturbances in sleep patterns.
How Does Massage Therapy Treat Chronic Migraine?
Treatment for migraine is limited, with a handful of prescription and over-the-counter medications used by most patients. These medications aren't always effective, and they can come with side effects that are almost as unpleasant as the attack itself.
Massage therapy can be a highly successful treatment for migraine because it can increase serotonin levels while decreasing the presence of cortisol, a stress hormone. Manipulation of the musculature also reduces tension, which can provide immediate relief from pain when you're in the throes of an attack. Because massage can be effective as a treatment aid for sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety, it can work to address many symptoms that often go hand in hand with migraine.
Massage therapy can have a significant impact on a variety of health and wellness conditions, with migraine treatment being one of the most promising. Working with a licensed massage therapist who understands the intricacies of this complex and debilitating condition can have a substantial impact on your well-being without introducing more medications and side effects to the equation. In some cases, your doctor may even refer you to a massage therapist in order to supplement your treatment.
Because it's not always possible to schedule an appointment with a massage therapist during an active attack, a therapist may be able to provide you with valuable information on self-care for migraine at home, including self-massage techniques that could lessen the duration and intensity. This means a massage therapist can help you keep migraines at bay through regular care while also giving you some control over active attacks.