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Massage Today
April, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 04

Current Trends in Relieving Migraine Pain


More than 50 million people worldwide suffer debilitating pain from migraine headaches each year. But, what is a migraine headache and what options are there to help your clients end their suffering?

"Migraine" comes from the ancient Greek word, "hemicranias" meaning "half-head" or felt on one side of the head. The exact way a migraine works is not known, however it is thought to be caused by an inappropriate activation of a pain warning system. This system stays on and continuously repeats. During a migraine, the blood vessels in the brain expand in a process called vasodilatation. As the tissues surrounding the brain swell, the pain intensifies. In current research today, there is not one common cause for a migraine, however there are many common triggers such as: stress, caffeine addiction, hormonal changes, food allergies and environmental agitation.

The common solution for migraine pain is for clients to turn to over-the-counter medications or, in extreme cases, prescription drugs like Imitrex. While these can help for a while, the long-term side effects can be much, much worse than the initial headaches. Over-the-counter medications must be taken with caution because they could actually make the headache worse if they are not taken correctly. The overuse of pain relievers such as exceeding the recommended instructions or not following your doctor's advice can cause a "rebound headache." When the medication wears off, you might experience a withdrawal reaction, prompting you take more, which can lead to another headache, and on and on.

Migraine Pain - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Another emerging solution for migraine pain is the use of acupuncture. According to research conducted by WebMD, "Researchers found that compared with standard medical care, acupuncture offers substantial benefits in preventing headaches and improving the quality of life for people who suffer from frequent headaches, especially migraines." So, as a massage therapist, what solutions can you offer your clients to help them through these awful, painful headaches. Well, there are not a lot of options in the spa marketplace at this time, but one option helping people all across the U.S. is a cold stone therapy process for migraine headaches.

The cold stone treatment for migraine headache pain dramatically and quickly reduces the pressure and pain that accompanies migraines and many different types of headaches. The treatment lasts approximately 30 minutes and consists of headache point releases, specific essential oils (aromatherapy) applied to the face and pulse points, along with the use of specially designed and crafted cold marble stones placed at strategic areas to reduce inflammation of blood vessels. In general, the sense of smell is the strongest sense most people have and, when introduced to aromatherapy designed for a certain type of headache, it can cause an immediate physiological relief from the irritation.

Therapists are even finding this treatment useful for themselves, as well as their clients. "I have been a headache sufferer since I was nine years old," said massage therapist Crista Taylor. "At times, the headache was minor and more of a lingering dull pain that could be ignored. But at other times, it would be debilitating. I have used the cold stones and facial strokes on myself about once every two days and I have been headache free for over two months!"

Kelly Lott, LMT is a massage therapist with more than 20 years experience in massage and transitioned into teaching full time for the past 15 years. She has been a nationally certified instructor through NCBTMB for the past 13 years. She has extensive experience teaching massage classes all around the country in pregnancy, post-partum/labor, face toning, cold stone therapy for migraine headaches and many other massage related topics. To learn more about migraine pain, or the cold stone treatment for migraine therapy pain, visit


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