• Can Massage Help My Migraines?

    Migraine Headache“Can you help my migraines?” I get asked this ALL the time. In fact, I just had someone ask me this question yesterday while I was doing chair massage at a local company. My answer is always the same: It depends.

    It depends on whether you actually have migraine headaches or just really bad tension-type headaches. (There is a HUGE difference)

    It depends if your migraine headaches have a vascular component. (Not all of them do)

    It depends if there is a muscular component to your migraine. (Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn’t.)

    It depends if you are in the throes of a full-on migraine headache; in a prodrome, aura, or postdrome phase; or whether you are currently symptom free.

    It depends if there is a hormonal aspect to your headaches. (Yes ladies, this one is all yours.)

    It depends if you know your triggers, and more importantly, if you avoid those triggers you are able to.

    It depends how you manage your migraines. Do you use preventives, abortives, pain relievers, or some combination of these?

    It depends if you suffer from rebound headaches.

    It depends if you are looking for help from massage alone, or whether you’re open to other forms of bodywork, reiki, &/or aromatherapy.

    It depends on a lot more than this, but I think this is a good starting point.

    You see, migraines are not just really bad headaches. (I know I mentioned that earlier, but it bears repeating.) They are actually a neurological disease (not a vascular one as previously thought), and many times do NOT have a headache component. Migraines are extremely complex and I can’t do them justice or fully explain them in a blog post. There are whole books written on the subject, and even those only scratch the surface.

    To find out if I, or another massage therapist, can help with your migraines, I suggest calling and asking them. If they say “Of course!” or “Absolutely!” right off the bat, I would hesitate. It shows that they don’t have a full understanding of what migraines really are. The ideal answer to this question would be “maybe” or “it depends.” These answers show a healthy understanding of the complexity of migraines. For instance, I have a separate headache- and migraine-specific form that addresses the important things I need to know in order to begin to decide if I will be able to help. And I spend time going over the answers with you to make sure we are both on the same page. Some of your answers will lead to more questions, which will lead to a better understanding of how your migraines are affecting your body and your life. We then talk about the options open to us – massage, bodywork (like myofascial release), reiki (or other energy work), &/or aromatherapy.

    Keep an eye out for this month’s newsletter, because I’m going to give you some unexpected self care tips for your headaches and migraines. Hee hee, I’m such a tease sometimes!

    If you’re not subscribed to New Yew News (my newsletter), be sure to subscribe before Friday June 14 to make sure it shows up in your email or RSS feed because you won’t want to miss this. You can click on the previous link to see archived copies of past newsletters and sign up there, use one of the subscribe options on the website, or use the sign up box on my facebook page.

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