Massage a Possible Solution for Migraines?

There is a certain degree of mystery about what causes migraine headaches, with its pain levels ranging from “throbbing moderate” to severe— or from bad to worse. It could be caused by one, some or all of the following: genetic, a disorder of the central nervous system, chemical imbalances and even heart related. Many of the causes of primary headaches and tension headaches, including stress, also trigger migraines.

Therapeutic massage professionals are convinced that their efforts bring relief, as do many sufferers of migraine headaches who swear by it and regularly receive treatments.

Migraines may literally rob one’s ability to function normally, which is imperative for most who have jobs to do and responsibilities to family and community.

Evidence of the Healing Power of Massage

The American Massage Therapy Association (A.M.T.A.) reports that they are waiting for mainstream medicine and science to confirm massage’s healing powers over migraines beyond the testimonial evidence of those who have experienced its healing powers.

“Data on the efficacy of massage for migraine are somewhat limited. This does not mean that massage is not helpful for migraine, but rather that there have been few studies, and they have had smaller samples and less rigorous designs, so we do not have the scientific evidence necessary to make a conclusive statement about its efficacy,” reports Dr. Dawn Buse, Associate Professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Director of Behavioral Medicine at the Montefiore Headache Center in New York.

One of the limitations has been the lack of funding available for the comprehensive studies needed to affirm the pain easing impact of massage on migraine headaches. Pharmacological treatments, according to Dr. Buse, seem to have the inside track when it comes to funding testing of a growing number of new medications and their usual retinue of side effects.

Yet it’s really about the patients and the many who attest to feeling immense relief from massage therapy — a relief that lasts for days, even weeks at a time through regularly scheduled treatments.

Avoid Migraine Symptoms

Buse recently reported to the A.M.T.A. that she would encourage a growing number of patients who “find massage therapy helpful” to continue with regular massage therapy treatment plans. She also urged these same patients to maintain healthy eating habits and avoid a sedentary lifestyle that may lead to any of the following symptoms of migraines:

  • throbbing kinds of headaches, both dull and sharp
  • pain that becomes more intense with increasing physical activity
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain on both sides of the head or behind the eyes
  • blurred vision
  • hyper-sensitivity to light and sound

Relaxation to Reduce Tension

It makes sense that stress and tension are major factors in both tension headaches and migraines. Sometimes just the anticipation of one of these crushing headaches can bring one on, patients affirm. The one condition that most people report after undergoing a massage from a trained professional is relaxation. Relaxation in turn keeps tension and stress at bay.

Migraine headaches affect about 12 percent of the adult population in the United States, which is a pretty good argument for aggressively testing massage and scientifically pinpointing where this relief comes from and which kind of triggers and symptoms upon which it seems most effective.

We know of a study that, for instance, measured heart rates, anxiety levels and salivary cortisol — the essential hormone produced when under stress— before and after treatments. The results provided conclusive proof that all of these levels decreased after each session.

—Call us today at (201) 651-9100 at Oakland Spine & Physical Therapy to learn how massage might ease and eliminate pain from your life.