Massage and Headaches


Massage and Its Benefits to Chronic Headaches

Chronic headaches, tension headaches, and migraines are common conditions that can have various causes or trigger factors. 

If you’re someone who’s always under stress and has been dealing with headaches, you should consider getting a massage. 


Common causes of headaches

Chronic daily headache or CDH is a descriptive term that refers to headaches that occur at least 15 days every month. These are the kinds of headaches that can occur on a daily or almost daily basis: 


1. Cluster – this is a rare type of headache as compared to other types. But the pain it causes can be severe and recurs at the same spots or clusters every time, which could last up three hours. This can be characterized by sudden onset of pain (usually behind the eye), agitation, watery eyes, nasal congestion, drooping eyelids, and sweating. 

This can be caused by alcohol use, smoking, bright light, high altitude, too much heat, foods with nitrate (such as bacon), overexertion, and drug abuse. 


2. Migraine – this is the most disabling and frequent headache pain of all. Its symptoms include throbbing or pounding sensation that is usually one-sided. If you have a migraine attack, you will most likely suffer from sensitivity to light or noise and nausea, which oftentimes worsens the more you move around. It can also occur on the face and neck.

A migraine may occur due to weather changes, lack of sleep, alcohol use, dehydration, hunger, change of schedule, menstruation, strong odors, and certain foods. 


3. Tension-type – this is the common type of headache, which is usually caused by muscle tension and stress. It typically doesn’t cause vomiting, sensitivity to light, or nausea but is characterized by an ache that affects both sides of the head. However, pain is usually dull and mild to moderate. 


4. Hemicranias continua – this type of headache is chronic and persistent. It causes a continuous but fluctuating pain and can be felt on the same side of the head and face. It is classified as primary when a patient’s medical history, neurological and physical examinations, and all necessary investigations have ruled out an underlying cause. 


5. Idiopathic intracranial hypotension – also referred to as spontaneous intracranial hypotension is “secondary to a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak at the level of the spine and the resulting loss of CSF volume to support the brain and spinal cord,” according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. One of the symptoms of this condition is having the difficulty to function while standing or sitting upright. Other symptoms include nausea, shoulder pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light, imbalance, and neck pain, to name a few.


While there are headaches that can be relieved by over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen, these synthetic medicines can damage your kidneys. This is why it’s best to opt for a safer way to relieve headaches. 


Massage therapy to help with headaches

Based on several clinical trials, there is enough evidence to prove that massage therapy does help reduce tension and stress, which are the major causes of most headaches. 


1. It can loosen tight muscles and bands of tissues, especially those in head, neck, and shoulders. It also promotes neck alignment and muscle balance, especially those that are attached to the base of the skull. 

2. It can stimulate the blood circulation in the areas that might be ischemic or lacking blood flow. 

3. It decreases pain from trigger areas, or body parts that have tender and hyper-irritable tissues, relieving pain. 

4. It helps regulate specific hormones, decreasing cortisol levels, also known as the stress hormones. Aside from that, massage therapy can boost endorphins in your system, allowing you to relax and sleep better. 

5. It can decrease the occurrence of migraines. There have been multiple studies that suggest that massage therapy helps prevent migraines from occurring. 

Bottom line

As you can see, massage therapy is not only a safer and more effective way to fight stress but can also help relieve different kinds of headaches. 

Before you get a massage, it’s best to consult with your doctor first to rule out any underlining conditions.