Cold Therapy for Migraine Headaches

Cold Therapy for Migraine Headaches

Cold therapy is, also known as cryotherapy, one of the most common self-care treatments for people with migraines. When suffering from migraines, lay down with a cold pack on your neck or cover your head with a cold towel. Common side effects include headaches and teeth chattering, but they are worth not letting the migraine take over your day.

The treatment has a long history of over 150 years of use, and research indicates that it can reduce headaches by 66%. It's essential to be aware that, similar to other treatments, there may be unexpected side effects, so it's crucial to discuss them with a doctor before trying the treatment.

How Cold Therapy Stops Pain

Cold therapy, when applied to the head and neck, this type of therapy constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation. As a result, cold therapy helps to slow down the nerve transmission of pain signals and reduce local inflammation that is often the cause of the pain.

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    SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy pack for Migraine Headache Pain:

    The migraine relief pack is constructed from high-quality, non-toxic materials that are safe for skin contact. It is specifically designed to be used cold, providing a soothing effect on the affected area and helping to reduce inflammation and swelling. This can effectively alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with migraine headaches, offering a cost-effective option for individuals dealing with this condition.

    In simple terms, this therapy replaces pain with a feeling of cold, resulting in reduced pain. In addition, cooling the head and neck has been shown to have a pain-reducing effect on the nervous system.

    How to prevent migraines and headaches

    Individuals can use several non-pharmaceutical or medical interventions to prevent or reduce their severity.

    It is within the realm of possibility for individuals to incorporate the following actions into their daily routine, although we understand that it may not be a simple task.

    To avoid headaches or migraines, it is recommended to avoid certain drinks and medicines. Although identifying the underlying cause of these problems may seem overwhelming, reducing the frequency of these painful occurrences is worth the effort.

    Cold Therapy: A Nearly 200-Year-Old Proven Pain Management Method

    It may come as a surprise to learn that Cold therapy has been utilized for nearly two centuries to alleviate headaches and migraines. In 1849, James Arnott, a pioneer in cryotherapy, discovered that applying a blend of salt and ice to the affected area considerably reduced headache pain. Despite the rapid advancements in medicine and technology, the efficacy of cold therapy in reducing pain remains as valid as ever.

    Respected institutions such as the National Headache Foundation and the Mayo Clinic endorse using ice packs and cold compresses to alleviate migraine and headache pain. A study conducted in 2013 suggested that applying a cold pack to the neck at the onset of a migraine can significantly reduce pain. In addition, researchers have unanimously concluded that cooling packs aid in reducing inflammation.

    The Evidence for Cold Therapy

    Using cold packs and cooling your head to alleviate headache pain is a well-established method supported by research. Evidence has shown that it is effective in relieving migraines (headaches that recur frequently and cause other symptoms such as nausea), tension headaches (less severe and more common), and other types of headaches. In addition, several studies have yielded important findings, such as:

    • Efficacy for migraine: In a study conducted in 2015, 20 individuals who suffered from migraines were treated with cold therapy. The results showed that eight participants (40%) experienced complete relief from their pain, while 10 (50%) reported partial relief. Furthermore, 87% of those who received the treatment experienced a significant reduction in the severity of their symptoms 24 hours after the application.
    • Targeted neck cooling: A study conducted in 2013 examined the effectiveness of targeted neck cooling for migraines affecting the carotid arteries, which are major blood vessels located at the front of the neck. The researchers discovered that applying ice to the affected area at the start of a migraine attack significantly reduced pain intensity after only 30 minutes. This suggests neck cooling is a practical and efficient option for managing migraines.
    • Managing tension headaches: Scientists have explored cold therapy as a potential treatment. In a study conducted in 2019, 14 women suffering from tension headaches reported a reduction in the intensity and character of their headaches after cooling the neck and head. In addition, this approach also resulted in a decrease in the use of pain-relieving medication. These findings suggest that cold therapy may be an effective way to manage tension headaches.

    Studies on cold therapy and migraine

    There are few studies on cold therapy and migraine. However, in a recently published study, a gel cap filled with frozen liquid can be used by people with migraine to find some relief as it numbs their pain for up to an hour. (This study did not have a control group that received no treatment or a placebo, so the findings cannot be interpreted broadly.)

    The gel cap was kept in the freezer and used by each participant for two migraine attacks. After using the cold gel cap for 25 minutes, the severity of the migraine was reduced in 50% of the patients in their first migraine attack, and three patients had a complete response (their migraine was relieved). In the second round of the migraine experiment, 57.6% of participants reported a positive outcome, significantly more than those previously given the placebo treatment.

    A more recent study out of the UK selected 55 eligible migraine patients randomly assigned to a cold neck wrap group or a control group that used a room temperature wrap. To avoid bias, neither the patients nor the staff knew what treatment patients received.

    However, the results showed that those who used the cold neck wraps experienced a significant reduction in their migraine attack severity at 30 minutes and had longer periods before needing rescue medications. Also, 77% of those tested in the study said that they felt their migraine was helped by using cold neck wraps and only had to consume 57.6% as many pain relievers compared with the control group, which required 87.6%.

    Different products for cold therapy

    • Ice bag
    • Cold therapy pack
    • Fluids used on the skin, like ethyl chloride, that cool by evaporation
    • Cooling pads
    • Gelcaps to be worn on the head
    • Cold compression wraps
    • Frozen gel packs inserted into headbands

    Benefits of Cold Therapy for Migraine Headaches

    Cold therapy can provide a number of benefits for people with migraine headaches, including:

    • Reduced inflammation
    • Reduced pain
    • Dull nerve impulses
    • Improved circulation

    Cold therapy is a safe and effective treatment for migraine headaches. It is a good first-line treatment for mild to moderate headaches. If your headache is severe, you may need to see a doctor for further treatment.

    How to Use Cold Therapy

    When treating a headache with cold therapy, several options can be available from your home. One way is to create your cold pack using household materials such as a bag of frozen vegetables or a towel soaked in cold water. Alternatively, you can purchase reusable cold packs from Sacksy Thyme. There are three main methods for applying cold therapy to your head:

    • Cold packs: There are several options to use as a cold pack, including items available at Sacksy Thyme stores. Place in the freezer for 2-3 hours before use, and it will remain cool for up to 15- 20 minutes on average. For best results, keep all Sacksy Thyme products in a plastic bag in the freezer for freshness—the perfect comforting experience when you need it most.
    • Ice towel: To cool down, try using a damp towel quickly. Soak a towel in cold water and wring it out until slightly damp. Fold it neatly and place it in a plastic bag. Put the bagged towel in the freezer for 15 minutes or until it feels chilled. Remember to remove the towel from the bag before using it.
    • Ice packs: To create an ice pack, take a plastic bag or a pre-made cold pack and fill it with roughly half a pound of ice. Add a small amount of water before sealing the bag. Before use, wrap the ice pack in a damp towel to prevent frostbite.

    The recommended approach is to apply cooling techniques to the forehead, temples, or neck for 15-20 minutes. This method can be repeated several times throughout the day and as necessary if symptoms persist.

    How does cold therapy help with migraines?

    Cold therapy can help with migraines in several ways, such as:

    • First, reduce inflammation in the blood vessels and nerves. The process of vasoconstriction, which involves limiting blood flow to the brain, can constrict blood vessels near the skin's surface. This mechanism can effectively narrow and alleviate the pulsating sensations brought about by a migraine headache.
    • Calm the nervous system. By implementing this practice, one can effectively alleviate the symptoms of migraine headaches caused by tension and stress. It has been observed that stress and tension can lead to the contraction of the neck and shoulder muscles, which can further exacerbate migraine headaches.
    • Numbing sensation. When utilizing cold therapy, it is possible to experience a numbing sensation on the skin's surface, which can effectively alleviate headaches and minimize pain. However, to ensure the safety and efficacy of the treatment, it is recommended that ice is applied for no longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
    • Relax the muscles. Muscle relaxation is a highly effective approach to mitigating the pain and symptoms of migraine. It leads to a reduction in nerve and blood vessel pressure, offering significant relief. Additionally, relaxing the muscles can reduce stress and tension, which, as previously mentioned, can have a calming effect on the nervous system.

    Tips for Using Cold Therapy for Migraine Headaches

    Here are a few tips for using cold therapy for migraine headaches:

    • Start applying cold therapy as soon as possible after the headache starts. This will help to reduce inflammation and pain.
    • Do not apply cold therapy for more than 20 minutes at a time. Overuse of cold therapy can damage your skin.
    • If using an ice pack or cold compress, wrap it in a towel to protect your skin.
    • Do not apply cold therapy directly to your skin.
    • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before using cold therapy.

    Possible side effects of cold therapy

    Because cold therapy doesn't involve ingesting any medications or supplements, there are few side effects from using this treatment method. However, people with problems with intolerance to cold temperatures should expect to experience more significant discomfort because they would not be able to tolerate being treated by this method.

    These are not all the possible side effects of cold therapy; however, it is best for anyone considering undergoing this type of treatment to speak with their doctor about what to expect from the procedure itself and all that it entails before making a final decision on whether or not one wishes to pursue these types of treatment methods in general, as well as getting more specific advice from your provider as far as this particular choice is concerned.

    Who should not use cold therapy for migraine?

    Before beginning any therapy, do some research and consult your doctor. In particular, if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any circulatory problems like diabetes or skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis. Also, cold packs should not be applied to bare skin constantly. Using a cloth covering can help prevent damage like frostbite or burns.

    As always, a doctor is the best source of medical advice intended specifically for migraine sufferers. However, to provide as much helpful information as possible regarding books and herbs, these summaries have been put together to avoid any serious medical recommendations from your physician. When consulting a physician about these or any other remedies, you will remember that the actual treatment should be discussed between yourself and your doctor!

    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 substantially 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 to 15 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 decrease headache pain significantly. In addition, 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.

    Cold Therapy is Effective, But Sometimes Heat Therapy Can Also Be Beneficial

    For individuals who experience chronic migraines, applying a cold pack can quickly constrict blood vessels and decrease the transmission of pain signals.

    On the other hand, individuals who suffer from tension-type headaches may find relief from heat therapy. Heat therapy can increase blood flow to the affected area, relaxing tense muscles that can cause muscle contraction headaches.

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    Sacksy Thyme Hot therapy pad for Migraine Headaches

    SacksyThyme's Hot Therapy Relief microwavable flaxseed heating pad is a top choice for individuals seeking relief from migraine headaches. The pad is designed to be heated in the microwave, providing quick and easy therapy for those suffering from painful migraines. The flaxseed filling ensures an even distribution of heat, providing targeted relief to the affected area.



    Applying cold packs to the temple and neck is a highly effective method for managing and alleviating headaches. In addition, studies have demonstrated that cold therapy is beneficial for treating migraines and tension headaches.

    Medical professionals recommend applying the ice for 15-minute intervals and repeating the therapy multiple times daily. It is essential to ensure that a cloth or towel separates the skin from the ice or cold pack during application.

    Headache prevention involves various strategies, such as getting sufficient sleep, exercising, maintaining hydration, avoiding triggers, and promoting relaxation. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most effective prevention and treatment methods for one's specific condition.

    A Word From Sacksy Thyme

    Effective headache management requires having a variety of relief options available. One such option is the application of cold packs, combined with other preventative measures and therapies, to alleviate pain and restore normal function. If you experience severe or recurrent headaches, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to discuss appropriate treatment options.

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