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Cryotherapy effective alternative treatment for headaches and migraines

Are you searching for an alternative treatment for headaches and migraines?

We can all relate to a time when we have been experiencing a headache or migraine and we wish the pain to go away. Sometimes no matter what we try, nothing seems to work. With the fast-paced lives, many of us lead today, a lot of the time stress is a major contributing factor for both headaches and migraines. Accordingly, implementation of relaxation techniques to help suppress the symptoms is frequently recommended. However sometimes the harder we try to relax the tenser we become, and many people find they do not see the reductions in pain that they are searching for. Pain killers don’t seem to touch it? At this point, we become desperate for some form of relief. Traditionally treatments for migraine headaches are generally treated with, analgesics and anti-emetic agents. Various non-pharmacological methods, including massage, trigger point therapy, reflexology, and hot/cold treatments have also been used (Ucler et al., 2006).

Have you considered cryotherapy as a treatment for headaches and migraines

The treatment of migraine and headaches with cold therapy has been used for over 150 years. Since then, many studies have explored various methods of cold application, with many reporting of improved symptoms (Sprouse et al., 2013). As such, many individuals will turn to this form of treatment when a headache or migraine strikes.

Controlled trials

A 2013 randomised control trial demonstrated that migraine sufferers who were treated with neck cooling wraps reported of reductions in pain when applied at the onset of the migraine (Sprouse et al., 2013).  Based on the understanding that cooling seems to suppress symptoms, preliminary research suggests local cryotherapy may be an even more effective treatment for those suffering from both headaches and migraines than other methods of cold treatment previously used.

treatment for headache and migraines

Several pathophysiological mechanisms of action in reducing the symptoms when exposed to cryotherapy have been proposed including (Vanderpol et al., 2015):

  • Neurovascular mechanisms: When cold is applied, vasoconstriction occurs and therefore there is a decreased downstream blood flow. Consequently, this leads to an inhibition of the inflammatory mediators contributing to the pain experienced.
  • Pain gating by the differential effect on nerve conduction: cryotherapy can induce pain relief by slowing down nerve conduction and causing disruptions to the gate of pain control. Cryotherapy induced this analgesia by slowing nerve conduction of the sensory fibres before the motor fibres.
  • The decrease in vascular permeability: During cryotherapy, there is a decrease in vascular permeability, which in turn is thought to be due to a decreased release of inflammatory mediators and a reduction in oedema.
  • Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels: Some recent finds suggest that TRP channels may be influential on headaches and migraines due to their response to temperature change. As such exposure to cryotherapy may affect these channels leading to a suppression of pain.



Localised Cryotherapy as a treatment for headaches and migraines

local cryotherapyLocal cryotherapy differs from our whole body cryotherapy as it is a targeted treatment. The treatment is non-invasive, no needs for anaesthetic, and no post-treatment scaring. It is thought that localised cryotherapy to the neck and head may be more beneficial at reducing pain symptoms for those with migraines, we recommend combining a mix of whole body cryotherapy and local cryotherapy to ascertain what works best for you.

A typical localised treatment involves a qualified therapist applying cold air at temperatures of up to -42℃ out of a handheld device. The treatment lasts 10 minutes. All you have to do it lay there, whilst the therapist targets the area of treatment, which triggers the body’s anti-inflammatory response.

We have already had some positive feedback from clients using this targeted approach for migraine and headaches, this includes migraine sufferers; boxers post-fight, a toothache is also a common form of pain and headache”.

With the increased understanding that cryotherapy may be an effective treatment to help you overcome the significant pain that occurs from both headaches and migraines and the positive feedback we are hearing from clients, why not come down and give it a try.

Learn more about Local Cryotherapy




Submitted by

Jenifer Haymer BSC


Sprouse-Blum, A.S., Gabriel, A.K., Brown, J.P. and Yee, M.H., 2013. Randomized controlled trial: targeted neck cooling in the treatment of the migraine patient. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, 72(7), p.237. Ucler, S., Coskun, O., Inan, L.E. and Kanatli, Y., 2006. Cold therapy in migraine patients: Open-label, non-controlled, pilot study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 3. Vanderpol, J., Bishop, B., Matharu, M. and Glencorse, M., 2015. The therapeutic effect of intranasal evaporative cooling in patients with migraine: a pilot study. The journal of headache and pain, 16(1), p.5.





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