Managing Migraines Using Massage Therapy

Migraines are not just a different type of headache; they are a severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation that is generally felt on one side of the head. More often than not nausea, vomiting, as well as extreme sensitivity to light and sound accompanies this pain. These attacks can last for hours or for days and they can be so severe a person is not able to function. In fact, a migraine headache ranks in the top 20 of the world's most disabling conditions affecting people of all ages. Migraines are a neurological disease that can be managed using massage therapy.

Different Types of Migraines

Common Migraine: This is the most prevalent type of migraine; technically this is referred to as a migraine without aura. Almost 11 percent of general population worldwide suffer from this. According to some doctors, this type of migraine will worsen with overuse of over-the-counter headache pills. A common migraine can last for anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. If the headache continues for over 72 hours then it is known as status migrainosus, which requires immediate medical attention.

Classic Migraine: Another term for this migraine is a migraine with aura. People suffering from aura experience dazzling flash of light, hazy spots or zigzag lines in their vision few minutes prior to the onset of the migraine. It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of those who regularly get migraines have aura symptoms.

Menstrual Migraine: Migraine is a condition that is twice as common in women as men. There is a strong connection between the menstrual cycle and the onset of a migraine. Fluctuating hormones are the antecedent.

Chronic Migraine: This is a severe form of migraine. Defined, this headache occurs for more than 15 days in a one month period for three consecutive months. Over the course of time the headache continues throughout the day with occasional migraine symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Chronic migraine is one of the most disabling forms of migraine.

Abdominal Migraine: With this type of migraine, the person experiences light to severe abdominal pain along with nausea and vomiting during the attack. This is commonly seen in children who have a history of migraine in their family.

There are other types of migraines but this gives you an idea that not all migraines are the same.

Massage Can Help

The science community has done very little research about massage therapy and migraines; however, there have been many independent studies conducted that conclude there is relief for most massage therapy patients. It is encouraging that there is a positive connection between massage and migraine relief. For example, a 2014 published paper in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows positive effects of Thai traditional massage. This massage uses stretching, compression, and pulling and rocking motion. This has proven to provide relief in many migraine sufferers.

Depending on the severity and type of migraine the patient is suffering with, a massage therapist may use a variety of different techniques such as:

  • Craniosacral therapy: This is a gentle massage focused on the skull and scalp.
  • Reflexology: Uses pressure and massage on the soles of the feet.
  • Relaxation massage: This is for stress relief.
  • Deep Tissue Massage: This massage works well on a tense neck and shoulders providing great results in relieving migraine symptoms.

Massage therapy is not a cure for migraine, but countless migraine patients state it is an indispensable complementary therapy. Some research has even shown that those who receive massage therapy experience a reduction in migraines. This has proven to bring relief to many who seek a reduction or elimination in pharmacological treatment.

Many benefits of massage therapy include an increase in serotonin levels which can help decrease senility to pain, reduce stress levels, and it can help improve sleep. At Chiro-Med Rehab Centre you can be sure you are in the hands of not only a qualified massage therapist, but a therapist who puts your best interests first.

Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for over a decade. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can help you seek relief from migraine pain. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-2620 for more information.


Chatchawan U, Eungpinichpong W, Sooktho S, Tiamkao S, Yamauchi J. (2014). "Effects of Thai traditional massage on pressure pain threshold and headache intensity in patients with chronic tension-type and migraine headaches." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

March 8, 2018
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