Can heat and cold treat migraine?
According to the National Headache Foundation, Ice and heat can be used to treat migraine headaches, in addition to medication and other therapies, recommended by your healthcare provider.
Ice packs in general have a numbing effect and works to blunt the sensation of the headache. Hot packs, heating pads and other similar devices, work to sooth and relax tense muscles and provide relief.
This type of pain abatement is particularly popular with people trying to minimize or avoid prescription medication use, especially among pediatric patients and their families.
How effective is cold therapy for migraine?
A recent study by the national institute of health that investigated the impact of cold therapy on patients with migraine between the age of 21 and 37 years old, found that patients reported at least a 50% reduction in migraine headache, when they wore a cold therapy gel cap.
The study was conducted at the ministry of Health, Ankara Training and Research Hospital Headache Center and informed consent was obtained from all patients.
Most effective ways to use cold therapy
According to Dr. Tania Elliott, chief medical officer at EHE Health, the best way to use cold therapy for migraine is to apply the cold therapy gel cap for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Where you apply the ice pack also determines how quickly you can experience relief.
According to Dr. Alex Tauberg, a certified sports chiropractor in Pittsburgh, maximum relief is obtained when you put the ice either over the pain or at the base of your skull. In addition, you should keep the ice on the same spot for 20 minutes and then remove it for an hour. Continue to alternate the ice on and off until the pain subsides.
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Heat therapy overview
Heat therapy involves applying a warm product to the head or other parts of the body for the purpose of relieving pain.
For some people, heat can be a trigger for their migraine while for others it can be a soothing source of relief.
Heat therapy application may involve the use dry or moist heat. Dry heat may involve the use of a heating pad or similar devices. Moist heat may include hot baths, steamed towels, or moist heat packs.
Benefits of using a heating pad
While it's possible to use many at home solutions such as warm baths, heat lamps and hot water bottles etc, to treat your migraine attack, these solutions cannot be controlled and you risk serious burns or injury. In addition, these solutions may take a long time to work since its impossible to direct heat to the parts of your head that will sooth your migraine quickly.
A heating pad on the other hand, delivers consistent controlled heat to your head and may directly target the nerve centers that are responsible for your migraine. Heating pads may come in various forms such as headache hats, pain relief head wraps, and migraine hats etc.
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Finding a good solution to help treat your migraine can mean the difference between experiencing insignificant manageable headaches and severe debilitating pain. Using an ice pack or heat pad are an inexpensive and relatively safe way to reduce the discomfort and pain from a headache, in a convenient, controlled, manner.
If over-the-counter treatments and home remedies don’t provide the relief you require, it might be best to speak to your doctor about additional ways to treat the symptoms.