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Each year, over 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches, and two-thirds of sufferers are women. That’s a lot of people in pain—and a lot of people you can help with massage therapy.

As more research confirms the benefits massage therapy has to offer, pain management is an area where massage continues to show promise. And the pain associated with migraines is no exception.

headacheFor a headache to be classified as a migraine, the pain must be severe enough to limit or impair normal activity and be intensified by physical exertion.  Many migraine sufferers first experience what is called a pre-headache, hours or even days before a migraine episode. Being able to recognize these symptoms can help massage therapists better assess a client’s pain and, in some cases, prevent a full migraine from occurring by properly managing pain early.

A therapeutic approach that includes aromatherapy, massage therapy and cold therapy can be effective in helping relieve the pain of migraine for many sufferers.

Aromatherapy: The first step in stopping a migraine is to calm the client, and one effective way to achieve this goal is through aromatherapy.

Massage: Massage therapy focusing on headache point release techniques may help the client reach a calmer state.

Cold Therapy: Addressing the vascular component of the migraine may also help alleviate pain. Cold stone therapy can help to normalizing blood flow to the area, and can help to reduce or remove the pounding sensation the client is experiencing in their head while helping to calm the brain.  Migraine sufferers typically feel relief from the cold stones within a short amount of time.

If at all possible, massage therapists will want to see the migraine-suffering client the day they feel their first pre-headache symptoms. Timing is critical to ward off the migraine before it can take full effect.

It is also helpful to work with clients to help determine migraine triggers that may be present in their lives, such as stress at work, eating certain foods, severe weather changes, etc.

Whatever the trigger might be, being more aware of when a migraine may be more likely to strike can help clients anticipate when a massage therapy session might be needed.

©The Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks
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