massage therapist massages female patient's head

Headaches, Migraines, and Massage: A Hands-On Solution 

massage therapist massages female patient's head

They may start gradually or come on all at once. Symptoms may range from blurred vision to light sensitivity to vomiting. Some people consider them a mild nuisance; others find them completely debilitating.

We’re talking, of course, about headaches.

Painful facts

The World Health Organization classifies migraines as one of the 10 most disabling medical illnesses in the world, impacting more than 37 million men, women, and children in the United States alone.

More than 9 million Americans suffer 15 headache days each month, and those headaches come with a heavy cost. Annually, migraines incur millions of dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity, and, according to the American Migraine Foundation, prescription medications are only effective in reducing headache pain about 40% of the time.

Fortunately, medications aren’t the only treatment option for headaches.

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Causes and treatments

Not all headaches are the same. Causes range from lack of sleep and increased anxiety to overexertion, hormonal changes, or even genetics. Treatments vary as well, from simple hydration to adjustments in posture to medication.

One treatment option that often gets overlooked, however, is massage.

A study found that massages can help elevate serotonin levels, improve sleep, lower anxiety, decrease heart rate and cortisol levels and—most importantly—reduce headache pain.

Hands-on help for headaches

For trained massage therapists, pain relief for a client suffering from headaches may rest, both literally and metaphorically, in the palms of their hands.

From trigger points to self-myofascial release, static stretching to proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretches, massage therapists are uniquely equipped with the skill set and knowledge base to provide clients with quick, effective relief from headaches.

If you’d like to learn more about the specific massage techniques used to reduce headache pain, frequency, and severity, we invite you to check out our 2-hour on-demand video course, Massage Intervention for Headaches – Reducing Frequency and Intensity, taught by Jim Menz, MS, LMT.

Learn massage techniques to reduce pain from headaches and migraines. View the course.