11 Physical Treatment Options To Relieve Migraine Headaches

11 Physical Treatment Options To Relieve Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are at their best, infrequent and passing, and at their worst a source of chronic pain that can seem almost impossible to treat and manage. The World Health Organisation (1) records that 30% of adults aged 18 to 65 experience at least one migraine headache per year. Within that number, 4% are chronically impacting adults up to every two weeks. 

When it comes to a migraine, finding its cause and trigger can be challenging. 

Migraine headaches are influenced by many factors (2), including (but not limited to) age, hormonal changes, stress, dietary habits, sleep pattern and physical strain. Studies have noted an increasing prevalence of migraine headaches in women and adults in their 30’s. (3) On top of that, a set treatment may not work for everyone. 

So while you may be quick to reach out for over-the-counter medications and spend the day in bed, don’t be defeated just yet. Exploring various forms of physical treatment can be an efficient way to manage your migraines. And in this blog, we break down the 11 most efficient options.

cervical spine graphic
1. Spinal Manipulation

Many headache sufferers are aware of the role their neck plays in the onset of symptoms. Your cervical spine (located at the back of your neck) contains bones, soft tissues, and vertebrae that are connected within the suboccipital area of your head. (4) The nerves and muscles found in this part of the body can be the source of migraine headaches. Spinal manipulation can help target, mobilise and release the inflammation triggering neck tension and discomfort. Preliminary studies (5) noted that this type of physical treatment could alleviate migraines.

1. Spinal Manipulation

Many headache sufferers are aware of the role their neck plays in the onset of symptoms. Your cervical spine (located at the back of your neck) contains bones, soft tissues, and vertebrae that are connected within the suboccipital area of your head. (4) The nerves and muscles found in this part of the body can be the source of migraine headaches. Spinal manipulation can help target, mobilise and release the inflammation triggering neck tension and discomfort. Preliminary studies (5) noted that this type of physical treatment could alleviate migraines.

2. Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that has been popularly linked (6) with chronic pain reduction. This therapy involves a targeted series of low-energy wave pulsations applied to the body to relieve muscle knot and nerve inflammation in the neck, which can cause migraines. The specific tissues that cause your migraine will determine whether Shockwave is helpful in your particular case.

2. Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that has been popularly linked (6) with chronic pain reduction. This therapy involves a targeted series of low-energy wave pulsations applied to the body to relieve muscle knot and nerve inflammation in the neck, which can cause migraines. The specific tissues that cause your migraine will determine whether Shockwave is helpful in your particular case.

Acupuncture and Dry Needling
3. Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Acupuncture and dry needling treatments can help reduce muscle spasms, boost blood flow, and increase the discharge of pain-relieving chemicals in the body. Many studies (7) have shown these non-invasive practices’ efficiency at reducing and preventing migraine headaches.

3. Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Acupuncture and dry needling treatments can help reduce muscle spasms, boost blood flow, and increase the discharge of pain-relieving chemicals in the body. Many studies (7) have shown these non-invasive practices’ efficiency at reducing and preventing migraine headaches.

Percussion Massage
4. Myofascial Trigger Point Release

A myofascial trigger point is a sensitive and tender  spot that can be found in muscles (you know the ones). The neck and jaw can be impacted by an inflamed trigger point and lead to migraine headaches. Treating a trigger point with a myofascial release technique that includes physical pressure and gentle manipulation can efficiently help ease pain. (8)

4. Myofascial Trigger Point Release

A myofascial trigger point is a sensitive and tender  spot that can be found in muscles (you know the ones). The neck and jaw can be impacted by an inflamed trigger point and lead to migraine headaches. Treating a trigger point with a myofascial release technique that includes physical pressure and gentle manipulation can efficiently help ease pain. (8)

Percussion Massage
5. Percussion Massage

Similar to a myofascial trigger point release, a percussion massage targets trigger points and muscle spasms in the neck to alleviate a migraine headache. This technique involves non-invasive vibrating tools and hands-on manipulation that have shown (9) to provide neurological benefits after ongoing treatment. 

5. Percussion Massage

Similar to a myofascial trigger point release, a percussion massage targets trigger points and muscle spasms in the neck to alleviate a migraine headache. This technique involves non-invasive vibrating tools and hands-on manipulation that have shown (9) to provide neurological benefits after ongoing treatment. 

6. Low-Energy Laser Therapy

When it comes to migraine headaches, an inflammatory change in the muscles, nerves or soft tissues is often at play. Low-energy laser therapy penetrates a painful area with low-energy light waves to relieve acute pain and inflammation. (10)

6. Low-Energy Laser Therapy

When it comes to migraine headaches, an inflammatory change in the muscles, nerves or soft tissues is often at play. Low-energy laser therapy penetrates a painful area with low-energy light waves to relieve acute pain and inflammation. (10)

Scar Tissue Release
7. Scar Tissue Release

Scar tissue can develop as a result of injuries, but also gradually due to chronic strain. (11) . Either can nurture neck and headache pain linked to the injuries. While it is hard to connect scar tissues and migraine headaches, physical injuries have a ripple effect within the body that can trigger nerves and muscles spasm linked to migraines. Physical therapy can be a gentle way to reduce pain, release adhesion, and decrease congestion of scar tissues.

7. Scar Tissue Release

Scar tissue can develop as a result of injuries, but also gradually due to chronic strain. (11) . Either can nurture neck and headache pain linked to the injuries. While it is hard to connect scar tissues and migraine headaches, physical injuries have a ripple effect within the body that can trigger nerves and muscles spasm linked to migraines. Physical therapy can be a gentle way to reduce pain, release adhesion, and decrease congestion of scar tissues.

Myofascial Trigger Point Release
8. Jaw Mobilisation

Emotional stress often influences tension and jaw clenching, which can build up into inflammation in the temporomandibular joint and cause migraine headaches. Jaw mobilisation aims to release this tension and stiffness linked to the ear, cheek, and jawline. A jaw mobilisation treatment can be beneficial for tension induced headaches and migraines. (12)

8. Jaw Mobilisation

Emotional stress often influences tension and jaw clenching, which can build up into inflammation in the temporomandibular joint and cause migraine headaches. Jaw mobilisation aims to release this tension and stiffness linked to the ear, cheek, and jawline. A jaw mobilisation treatment can be beneficial for tension induced headaches and migraines. (12)

Lady meditating
9. Meditation and Therapy

In many (most?) cases, migraine headaches are influenced by patterns of stress and emotional overload. Thanks to their benefits to the nervous system, regular meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy have been scientifically proven (13) to be powerful at soothing and reducing migraine recurrence.

9. Meditation and Therapy

In many (most?) cases, migraine headaches are influenced by patterns of stress and emotional overload. Thanks to their benefits to the nervous system, regular meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy have been scientifically proven (13) to be powerful at soothing and reducing migraine recurrence.

A person stretching after exercising
10. Exercise and Stretching

Gentle exercises and stretching performed on the neck or painful area decreases pressure and increase mobility linked to the cervical spine. (14) This is an efficient way to relieve inflammation of the nerves and muscles and, as a result, alleviate migraine headaches.

10. Exercise and Stretching

Gentle exercises and stretching performed on the neck or painful area decreases pressure and increase mobility linked to the cervical spine. (14) This is an efficient way to relieve inflammation of the nerves and muscles and, as a result, alleviate migraine headaches.

A young woman taking medicine
11. Prevention

If you’re suffering from chronic migraines, preventive and ongoing treatment can help reduce the recurrence of painful episodes. The type of physical treatment provided will highly depend on the root cause of your migraine. 

 

Migraine headaches can be triggered in many ways, it’s complex – but medicating your way through them is not always the answer. Holistic care can help manage migraines long-term in a non-invasive way.  The trick is to find the treatment that will target your root cause. And an expert team of therapists like ours can help you do that.

11. Prevention

If you’re suffering from chronic migraines, preventive and ongoing treatment can help reduce the recurrence of painful episodes. The type of physical treatment provided will highly depend on the root cause of your migraine. 

Migraine headaches can be triggered in many ways, it’s complex – but medicating your way through them is not always the answer. Holistic care can help manage migraines long-term in a non-invasive way.  The trick is to find the treatment that will target your root cause. And an expert team of therapists like ours can help you do that.

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