In the U.S., migraine affects 39 million people; 18 percent of American women, 6 percent of men and 10 percent of children experience migraine, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
As stress levels, hormonal imbalances and environmental toxins reach an all-time high, this number is predicted to steadily rise.
As a massage therapist in today’s marketplace, it is important to understand what causes a migraine headache and the migraine massage treatments available to help your clients.
After years of research, I have found the combination of cold stones, aromatherapy and massage appears to work best for the general population of migraine sufferers.
Causes of Migraine
The word migraine comes from the ancient Greek word hemicrania, which means half of the head or felt on one side of the head.
It is thought migraines are caused by an inappropriate activation of a pain warning system. This system stays on and continuously repeats.
Although the deeper causes of migraine are not completely understood, what is known is that many things can trigger a migraine.
During a migraine, blood vessels in the brain expand in a process called vasodilation. As the tissues surrounding the brain swell, the pain intensifies.
The most commonly known triggers are: stress, caffeine addiction, hormonal changes, food allergies and environmental agitation.
Migraine is a debilitating problem for many, causing loss of work, time with family and being able to function normally.
The Top 24 Migraine Triggers
- Stress and anxiety
- Foods containing MSG, tyramine, sulfates and nitrates
- Lack of food (low blood sugar)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Aged cheeses
- Hormonal changes
- Poor sleep habits
- Changes in weather, including humidity, barometric pressure and temperature
- Smoking or smelling tobacco products
- Perfumes or chemical odors
- Side effects from medications
- Bright or flickering lights
- Muscle tension
- Motion, such as that involved with driving or amusement park rides
- Lowered serotonin level
- Poor nutrition
- Air pollution
- Loud, constant noise
- TMJ dysfunction
- Food allergies
Anatomy of a Migraine
Migraine is a neurological disease that incapacitates sufferers, according to the Migraine Research Foundation, whose website notes, “Attacks are often accompanied by one or more of the following disabling symptoms:: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.”
Migraines oftentimes present as pulsating or throbbing pain that generally lasts four to 72 hours.
For the headache to be classified as a migraine, according to medical experts, the pain must be severe enough to limit or impair normal activity and be intensified by physical exertion.
Approximately 25 percent of migraine sufferers have a classic kind of headache. The prodrome, or pre-headache, may be experienced hours or even days before a migraine episode, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
It’s important you recognize these signs, as it will help you assess your client’s pain properly as a migraine and help him manage migraine pain by receiving treatment early, before the full migraine pain has kicked in.
Classic symptoms of a pre-headache include a visual perception of flashing lights, wavy lines or spots, partial loss of sight, tingling or numbness of the face, confusion, hypersensitivity to light and touch, pain feeling heavy on one’s head and sharp pain in one area.
While over-the-counter pain medications are helpful in improving headache pain, they must be taken with caution because they could actually make a migraine worse if taken incorrectly.
The overuse of pain relievers, done when exceeding recommended instructions or not following a physician’s advice, can cause a rebound headache.
When the medication wears off, the sufferer may experience a withdrawal reaction, prompting her to take more, which can lead to another headache, and so on.
Over-the-counter medications are not the only way your clients can receive relief from their migraine pain. There is a cold-stone solution called the Migraine Miracle that helps alleviate pain while building repeat business and increasing a therapist’s income.
Six years ago, I created and developed this cold-stone therapy regimen specifically for people looking for a quick way to achieve headache relief, naturally and without the need for over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
When using a cold application with the stones, massage-stone therapy causes an increase of muscle tone, an increase of the body’s stimulation, a decrease in pain and a decrease of inflammation or swelling.
The treatment lasts approximately 30 minutes and consists of massage therapy, utilizing specific headache point releases, combined with specific essential oils applied to the face and pulse points, along with the use of specially designed and crafted cold marble stones placed at strategic areas to reduce inflammation of blood vessels.
The important thing to remember about the cold marble stones is they need to be 36 degrees Fahrenheit to deliver the correct effect to reduce swelling in the blood vessels.
The best way to achieve that temperature is to keep the stones in the refrigerator, which is normally about 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you have a client coming, put a washcloth in the bottom of a metal bowl and place the stones in the bottom of the bowl. Put three handfuls of ice on top of the stones and then pour cold water on top of the ice.
In about 20 minutes, you will have the perfect temperature to apply the stones to the face and neck.
These migraine stones are designed in specific shapes to fit the sinus region, eye sockets and temples; the most popular large, half-moon stones are shaped to fit the occipitals. All of these stones aim to provide relief from the pounding pain and pressure in the skull.
Aromatherapy is an integral part of the Migraine Miracle. Our sense of smell is the strongest sense we have, and aromatherapy designed for a certain type of headache can cause an immediate physiological relief from the irritation.
First, you will want to ascertain what triggered your client’s migraine. Migraine triggers include food allergies, environmental irritants, stress and hormonal imbalance.
In terms of irritants, there are many environmental substances that agitate the body, including smoke, odors, pollen and dust. Because the body naturally reacts to these types of substances from a cellular level, the body will create a line of defense for these substances, usually in the form of histamines.
If you have a client who does not know why she gets migraines, the best solution is to have her smell each aromatherapy vial containing the above triggers. For the Migraine Miracle treatment,
I worked with an aromatherapist to create four custom migraine-related blends: Stress, Food, Environmental and Hormones.
The scent that is most pleasing to the client, or brings her the most comfort, is the one you will use.
It is possible more than one vial will be chosen as helpful; it is fine to use more than one in a session.
There are at least 20 to 30 oils that could help with hormonal balance in some capacity. The Migraine Miracle blends are all-natural essential oil blends the body is able to accept and that work well for the general population.
The human body, being a living organism, is always in protection mode. The body is always moving back to a state of balance, or homeostasis. Each human cell has different tasks. Each cell has receptors.
Because the Migraine Miracle aromatherapy blends are pure, synthetic and chemical-free, the body responds to the oils on a cellular level. These natural receptors accept certain substances as friendly and pleasing. The body is naturally attracted to them in the attempt to return the body to its natural state of homeostasis.
I had a client who did not know what triggered her migraines, and when I handed her the Food blend, she immediately said, “Fish.” I asked her what that meant, and she said her desk at work was right next to the company break room.
She said some employees would heat up leftover fish in the microwave. She is allergic to all fish; it made her sick every day and by the end of the week she had a debilitating migraine.
After I massaged her face and neck, she began to relax. I then applied the cold stones to the headache points that were in pain. She immediately smiled as I applied them.
In about 20 minutes, she sat up and declared her migraine was gone. She has since moved her desk to another space away from the lunch room, and keeps her stones in the refrigerator in case she feels a symptom.
Good for the Therapist
This treatment takes 30 minutes to perform, and the suggested retail price of the service is $80, so a massage therapist can make her initial investment back in just a few treatments.
It is an easy treatment a therapist can perform all day with minimal exertion.
The best part is the massage therapist will help to resolve debilitating client pain, drawing in regular and new customers.
Once you perform this treatment on migraine sufferers and they receive the relief they desire quickly, word will spread.
It seems everyone knows someone who suffers with terrible headaches.
Many who do would like to get relief from a natural means, without drugs. You will be able to help sufferers with a pleasurable, spa-like experience, all while increasing your income.
Migraine headache pain is the worst kind of headache pain. As massage therapists, we love nothing more than to take away our clients’ pain and make them feel that blissful spa experience.
Massage, cold stones and aromatherapy all work well by themselves. When combined, these modalities are even more effective.
The Migraine Miracle can help you relieve clients’ head pain in a profitable setting while building repeat business.
About the Author
Kelly Lott, L.M.T., creates custom product lines for spa services, including the Migraine Miracle and the Al Di La natural spa product line. She has trained massage therapists throughout the country for more than 15 years in a variety of spa treatments, including face toning, pregnancy and postpartum massage, as well as cold-stone therapy. She also wrote “Roll Back the Years: Face Toning Massage” for massagemag.com.
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