Ready to put
your migraines on ice? Thousands of people in the United States
experience migraine headaches regularly only to find that the standard
medications provide them little relief. One idea that's gaining
in popularity, though, is the use of ice "cryotherapy,"
to put it in technical terms. But does it work? The answer is yes, sometimes, and no, not always.
A study conducted
by Dr. Lawrence D. Robbins with the Department of Neurology at the
University of Illinois at Chicago examined the migraines of 45 people,
all of whom were given a cold head wrap to help with the pain. Dr. Robbins found:
- 35.5 percent
of the patients reported that the ice did nothing for their headaches.
- 29 percent
said the ice remedy helped a little.
- 26.5 percent
reported that the ice treatment was "fairly effective"
in relieving the pain.
- Just nine
percent said the cold treatment was completely effective in getting
rid of the migraine pain.
So you could
look at this as "the glass half-full" or "the glass
half-empty. " On the one hand, only a tiny minority report
that the cold head wrap gave them total relief. However, nearly
60 percent reported some relief by using it. Or as Dr. Robbins noted,
“You have a 50-50 chance of getting some pain relief within
three minutes of applying a soft, cold ice pack wrapped in a towel
to your head. ”
just how the ice works in order to understand why it provides some
relief. In a migraine episode, the head's blood vessels open
more widely. They could become swollen with blood, which
will cause pressure on the nerves around them. These nerves
then send out pain signals, causing the migraine. When you
surround your head with the cold wrap, this cools the blood vessels,
causing them to constrict and go back to normal size. This
reduces the pressure on the nerves and the pain.
There are a few
different ice products you can use to try to provide migraine relief. One is called "Migraine Ice," headache pads which
require no refrigeration.You just take the pad from a pouch,
take off its protective film and then apply it to the back of your
neck. Another product is Soft Ice. This one can be purchased
as either a head wrap or neck wrap. Of course a traditional
ice pack is also a possibility, and many have found that these do
the job as well as one of the new-fangled products.
not at home when a migraine attacks, and as a result, you don't
have access to one of the store-bought ice solutions. In that
case, you can make your own. It's as simple as getting a towel
and some crushed ice, then placing the ice on the towel, and folding
the towel to hold the ice.
Regardless of which ice remedy you use, you'll get better results
if you go into a dark room and lie down as you apply it. The
low lighting and relaxed atmosphere will help relieve some of the
tension that otherwise just exacerbates the problem.