Technically, migraine is a disease while headache is a symptom. Migraine pain is caused by vasodilation in the cranial blood vessels (expansion of the blood vessels). In contrast, headache pain is caused by vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels).

The treatment for migraine pain is different from the treatment for headache pain since the causes are very different. As any migraine-sufferer knows–a migraine is not a headache.

As a practitioner of cryotherapy I am intrigued by the use of local cryotherapy in the prevention of migraines and in the treatment of migraine pain. I read a fascinating article which I will cite here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3727573/

This research publication describes a randomized controlled trial in which migraine sufferers were treated with neck cooling wraps at the onset of migraine pain. Ice or cooling is vasoconstricting–so the vasodilation causing the migraine and migraine pain is counteracted. The trial determined that neck cooling applied at the onset of migraine reduced pain in participants. This research is evidence of the potential effect of targeted cooling on preventing the onset of migraines and in reducing migraine pain.

I had the opportunity to test this treatment on a client last night. While driving home, my client experienced a migraine aura.   He drove directly to Chill Cryotherapy and received 4 minutes of hyper-cooling (local cryotherapy) to the back of his neck. Local cryotherapy is the targeted application of extremely cold temperature to the skin. In this case, the target was the back of the neck. Temperatures range between -180 to -220 degrees F.

The temperature of ice in a warm environment is roughly 32 degrees. The temperature achieved during local cryotherapy is much colder than ice and therefore is much more effective at reducing inflammation and pain and at triggering vasoconstriction. Local cryotherapy is also extremely dry–there is no moisture involved. Ice is inherently “wet” and can damage the skin during application.

The client’s migraine aura subsided during the 4 minute treatment and did not come back. His migraine aura did not evolve into migraine pain either; it was essentially terminated.

I wanted to share this experience with anyone who suffers from migraines with or without aura. In the trial cited above, both types of migraine pain was reduced with the application of local cooling.

Chill Cryotherapy offers local cryotherapy services. Sessions last 4 to 5 minutes and can be extremely effective at preventing or reducing migraine pain. Please visit our website for more information on how to book appointments or please call us if you have a migraine and need immediate treatment: 908.228.5711