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Migraines and Massage

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I had a client come in today thankfully not in pain but does suffer from migraines. I thought to myself that is one area I have not written about so what a great opportunity. So here it goes. This information comes from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) from Peter Goadsby, M.D., who is a neurologist and headache specialist at the University of California San Francisco,

For those who want the short version if you suffer from migraines you want a skilled therapist that can do trigger point and Thai massage and this is exactly the type of work I do here at Four Seasons Massage and Fitness. Most important is pay attention to your warning signs before the pain sets in so you can get to your massage therapist to reduce the intensity of the attack. Scheduling regular massage is vitally important so schedule today.

What is a migraine?

Heacaches that include sensory disturbance where your brain is unable to process sensory information and is futther exacerbated by physiological changes such as sleep, exercise, and hunger. A migraine has a four phase cycle.

What is the four phase cycle? Phase 1)Prodrome. The warning signs before the pain hits CNA include food cravings, sleepiness, and neck pain. Phase 2)Aura. 1/3 of patient get a visual aura including sparkly spots, zigzag lines, and/or tunnel vision; this can last 20 to 60 minutes. It can also present has vertigo or tinutitis. Phase 3)Headache. Can be throbbing, piercing, or pulsating with sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. This can last for hours or days. Phase 4)Postdrome. Body requires recovery the person can be exhausted, sluggish, confused, and depressed.

What is the data on the efficacy of massage for migraines?

According to Dawn Buse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Mediciine in New York says the research is “limited” since funding is not there to support large sample sizes for nonpharmalogical studies. There have been three studies of note…

AMTA recommends finding the right therapist that is skilled in working the head and neck area and to schedule regular massage especially when your warning signs show so you get the massage before the pain sets in.

Study 1. One group has no massage another group has two 30 minute massages for five weeks. Heart rate, anxiety, and cortisol were measured before and after. Massage group reported a decrease in migraine frequency compared to the control group and all other levels decreased after each massage session.

Study 2. Ttension-type headaches focused on head and neck massage, ultrasound, or 12 trigger-point massage sessions over six weeks. The massage group reported the highest positive change in headache frequency and perceived pain and improvement in pressure-pain threshold compared to the placebo and control groups.

Study 3. Most interesting was a study on Thai massage on pressure pain threshold and headache intensity in tension type and migraine headaches. One group received ultrasound, another received nine session of Thai massage (uses compression, stretching, pulling, and rocking) over three weeks. The pain pressure threshold increased for the massage group, decreased for the placebo group. Both the ultrasound and massage group report reduction in the migraine intensity.

What should I do if I suffer from migraines?

Scheduling regular massage is vitally important so schedule today. Pay attention to the warning signs and get work done before the pain sets in. I can treat and help reduce the intensity of your migraines through trigger point work and Thai Massage for the table. I am firm believer that massage since it relaxes the body give your system a better chance to heal and calm so you feel better.