Approximately 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. It’s one of the most common complaints to doctors. While over the counter drugs are effective in relieving the pain in the short run, massage therapy is effective in relieving the pain of migraine and tension headaches in the long run.
Tension headaches can be triggered by stress, dehydration, hormonal changes, neck alignment, muscular pressure on trigger points, and muscle spasms. Tension headaches often feel like tightness in the head, referred pain to the neck, shoulders and arms, pain in the jaw or pain at the temple or behind the eyes. Massage therapy directly addresses the cause of tension headaches.
There are a constellation of causes for Migraine headaches which include many of the same symptoms as tension headaches, but also include sensitivity to light or sound, along with nausea and vomiting. Massage therapy cannot cure migraine headaches, although it can lessen the frequency and duration of migraines.
Massage therapy relieves muscle spasms and can help loosen chronically tight muscles or bands of tissue. This helps with muscle balance and neck alignment. Loosening the muscles at the base of the skull can relieve those headaches that travel up the back of the head and behind the eyes.
Massage can increase endorphin levels which promotes relaxation. Massage can also decrease cortisol levels. Cortisol, the stress hormone, when out of balance, is often the culprit in sleep disturbances. For many people who suffer with headaches, lowering stress levels and getting better quality sleep results in fewer headaches.