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  • Writer's pictureRobin R Varghese, PT.

Yes, it is awful!!! Have you been desperately trying to get rid of your migraine headache???


  • Migraine is a chronic, episodic primary headache

  • Symptoms usually last 4 to 72 hours

  • Pain is usually unilateral, throbbing, and gets worse with exertion.

  • Accompanied by autonomic symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, or odors

  • Just before the episode, there may happen a focal neurologic deficit called as the aura.


  • Skipping meals, weather changes, stress, head trauma, hormonal factors, certain food like chocolate with phenylethylamine, coffee, red wine, meat with nitrate preservatives like bacon and hot dog, flavor enhancer like monosodium glutamate, etc can trigger migraine along with genetic contribution.

Can physical therapy help Migraine patients? What does the research say?

  • Research regarding physical therapy for the treatment of migraine headache is limited.

  • A key systematic review in 2011 showed that massage therapy, physiotherapy, relaxation, and chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy might be equally efficient

  • Some studies have demonstrated that physiotherapy is most effective for the treatment of migraine when combined with other treatments

There are two approaches of physical therapy that may be beneficial for migraine relief:

  1. addressing injuries to the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs

  2. addressing posture and inner-ear-related balance issues

These techniques can help temporarily lessen your pain during a migraine attack. These techniques are especially helpful if you use them during the beginning of a migraine.

Physical Therapy Treatment includes the following:


  • Cold therapy in the form of a frozen neck wrap at applied onset of migraine headache targeting the carotid arteries at the neck significantly reduces migraine headaches.

Exercise Therapy

  • Exercise has been found to be effective in reducing the intensity of migraine headache. More research is needed regarding the value of exercise for migraine headaches.

Manual cervical traction

  • This noninvasive procedure can ease neck pain from your migraines. It can help separate the bones, joints, and disks in your neck

Spinal Manipulation

  • It helps to decrease pain intensity and reduce the number of days with migraine and also working disability. Cervical manipulation has been found to be successful for short term treatment of migraine headache, but caution demanded here. Your Physical therapist will know exactly how carefully this must be done.

Neural feedback and thermal biofeedback

  • Neurofeedback and biofeedback literature is increasing with positive outcomes for the treatment of migraine headache.

  • These techniques have enabled patients to automatically learn to abort their headaches without having to use neurofeedback devices.

  • It helps them to acquire the ability to better self-regulate by learning to control their EEG and reduce muscle tension.


  • Physical therapy can involve stretching and guidance on body mechanics as well as posture. This can help people position their head and neck in a better way, minimizing tension and odd positioning


  • Soft tissue mobilization is also a tool that physical therapists use in the treatment of migraine. This may help relax trigger points that worsen migraine headache symptoms.

Lifestyle modification

Physical therapist must provide education on:

  • General health, exercise, sleep, diet and relaxation techniques.

  • Posture correction to reduce muscle tension.

  • Stress reduction.

Success and Risk with Physical Therapy treatment for migraine headaches.

  • Success with physical therapy has a lot to do with how much of muscles and joints are involved.

  • People who get headaches from cervical spine and muscle tightness may find relief in physical therapy.

  • This is because the therapy helps to relax these muscles, release tension and relieves any referred pain that may go into the head, causing a headache.


  • Risks of physical therapy for migraine can include worsening of symptoms or no change in your migraine at all.

  • A physical therapist who has experience in treating headaches will be knowledgeable about proper techniques.

At Valley Healing Hands, Brownsville, Texas, we provide the best physical therapy treatment for migraine headaches. Our Physical Therapists are highly qualified and will be happy to serve you. Our patients are satisfied with our services. You may hear what they have to say about us and contact us here. Our patients love us and you too will!!!

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