The symptoms of migraine headaches are debilitating: stabbing head pain, nausea, stomach cramping and migraine auras. This can leave a sufferer feeling weak, tired, and depressed long after the migraine attack has subsided. While a migraine attack can last for days, the psychological aftermath can be perpetual. Migraine ranks in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses and about 36 million people in the United States suffer from migraines. Many influential people throughout history coped with the neurological disorder including John F Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Elvis was plagued with a hunk, a hunk of Burning Pain.

There are numerous methods used to try and help ease the unbearable symptoms. Conventional medicine and prescription drugs offer little relief from the condition some people cannot rely on pills, like pregnant women. Many are turning to alternative methods of treatment in order to manage the pain. Massage therapy is often used to complement other traditional medical migraine treatments or other alternative treatments.

Tense muscles and stress can aggravate migraine headaches. Visiting a massage therapist for a massage while a migraine is in progress can reduce muscle pain and tension. This alone may not eliminate your headache, but it can lessen the intensity and increase relaxation. These massages should focus on the neck, shoulders and upper back.

“I recently had a client who came in mid-morning and was complaining of a migraine episode she’s been having for almost a month. During the initial interview, I found out some interesting things that I thought might be contributing to her daily bout of migraine. To make a long story short, I worked on the client and used the integrative approach. After the massage, and during the exit interview, I asked the client if she noticed any difference before and after the massage. She said her headache was gone and that she thinks she doesn’t need to drink all those pain relief medicines after all.” — Jack Salgado, Canary Orchid Retreat in Falls Church, VA

For frequent migraines, massage can also be used as a preventative measure. Muscle tension and stress are often triggers for migraines, so anything that reduces stress and promotes relaxation can reduce the frequency of migraines. These massages should be deeper and more intense than massages given during a migraine.While using alternative methods of treatment can help gain more control over migraines, it should be treated as another form of support or extra help, instead of completely overlooking conventional medical care. Your massage therapist should be experienced and should be intuitive to your needs and their main goal should be to help you relax and ease your pain.

“Whether it is stress, pain, migraine, thigh muscles, or any other possible discomfort they are faced with, I am here to help, and that is the greatest joy to me. I give my personal attention to each and every one of my clients. My tools are my hands and my intuition.” Marika Eckhardt, Beyond Beaute Day Spa and Wellness Retreat in Clear Lake, TX