Can Cold Therapy Treatments Help With Migraines?

A migraine is a type of headache that can be debilitating for those suffering from them. About 12% of the population is estimated to suffer from migraine headaches. Migraine attacks can last for hours or even days and significantly affect a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are a few ways to combat these headaches. In this article, we will discuss different cold therapy options that can significantly reduce the pain of a migraine headache.

Key takeaways:

What is cold therapy?

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Cold therapy is a group of treatment options that involve using cold temperatures to reduce the signs and symptoms of pain and inflammation. It is popular among those with sports injuries, arthritis, and many other conditions that cause severe swelling and pain but can also effectively be used to treat migraine headaches.

Cold therapy can be applied to the affected areas using ice packs, cold compress, and other cooling devices.

How does cold therapy help with migraines?

Cold therapy can help with migraines in a number of ways, such as:

  • Reduce inflammation in the blood vessels and nerves. Restricting blood flow to the brain, also called vasoconstriction, helps constrict the blood vessels near the skin's surface and begin narrowing and reducing the throbbing sensations caused by a migraine headache.
  • Numbing sensation. When cold therapy is applied to the surface of the skin, it can cause a numbing sensation, which can ultimately soothe headaches and reduce pain. It is not recommended that ice is left on the surface of the skin longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Calm the nervous system. This will reduce stress and tension that can cause migraine headaches. Stress and tension can cause the neck and shoulder muscles to tighten, contributing to migraine headaches.
  • Relax the muscles. When the muscles are relaxed, the pressure of the nerves and blood vessels is reduced, which can help to alleviate the pain and symptoms of a migraine. Muscle relaxation can also help reduce stress and tension, which, as noted above, can help calm the nervous system.

Cold therapy treatments for migraines:

Cold therapy treatment for migraines includes:

Migraine relief hat

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A migraine relief hat is a specialized hat designed to relieve pain from migraine headaches. The hat contains frozen cooling gel packs that are placed inside pockets in the hat. The hat is designed to be secured to the head in order to provide optimal relief. Some migraine relief hats on the market are also said to contain acupuncture points that can trigger specific muscles to relax and relieve tension from the head and neck.

The migraine relief hat is a non-invasive way to help treat migraine headaches and is an excellent option for those who cannot take medications or those who have had no relief with migraine medications. One study found that a cold compress, applied to the head or neck, can cause instant relief from migraine symptoms.

Ice mask

An ice mask is a specialized mask that is placed in the fridge or freezer before use and then applied over the eyes and sometimes over the whole face to provide adequate pain relief from migraine headaches. This allows for targeted relief from the pain caused by a migraine headache. One of the main benefits of an ice mask is that, similar to the migraine relief hat, it is non-invasive and, therefore, can be used throughout the day without side effects. They are also very easy to use and can be worn on the go if traveling.

Ice masks come in a variety of different options and can be reusable or disposable. They come in different sizes and can be adjusted to suit the customer. Ice masks can also be adjusted to sit along the temples or neck, depending on the area of pain.

At-home cold treatment

If you are looking for cold therapy treatment options but do not have a migraine relief hat or an ice mask, there are many things you can do at home, for free, that can substantial help to reduce the pain caused by a migraine headache.

  • Ice packs. Simple store-bought ice packs and a towel, laid across the back of the neck or up along the forehead, can be an effective treatment option for migraines. This can be left for 10 to15 minutes each time and moved around or substituted with new ice packs until pain relief is met.
  • Cold shower or bath. Relaxing in cold water, either a bath or a shower, can reduce inflammation throughout the body and, in turn, can soothe the nervous system. This can soothe the pain of a migraine headache and be repeated throughout the day to alleviate symptoms.
  • Peppermint and eucalyptus. Peppermint and eucalyptus oils have been shown to significantly decrease headache pain. Peppermint and menthol have been shown to decrease the intensity of headaches due to a cooling effect on the neurons in the brain and, therefore, can relieve pain almost instantly.

Other treatment options that may help

  • Red light. Bright blue and green light can trigger an aura or photophobia headaches in those who experience migraine headaches, which can cause increased pain and sensitivity. Red light therapy can reduce the pain and sensitivity caused by blue light and ease the symptoms and pain of a migraine headache.
  • Turmeric. This spice is known to have very high levels of anti-inflammatory effects and can effectively relieve tension in the head and neck that can cause migraine headaches. Used for cooking, it can help lower inflammation throughout the body.
  • Caffeine. Can decrease constriction of the vessels in the brain, causing less tension and, therefore, can lessen the pain of a migraine headache. In some cases, it can also act as a constricting mechanism and increase awareness and prevent headaches if headaches are caused by being overtired.
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Cold therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for migraine headaches. It can help reduce inflammation, constrict blood flow through the blood vessels, and help to relax the muscles that cause tension. It’s always important to read and follow the direction of purchasing mechanisms such as the cold relief migraine hat or ice mask.

Depending on the product, cold therapy should not be applied much longer than 20 minutes in total. Speaking to a medical professional is also essential if you suffer from ongoing migraine headaches.


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