Headaches and Massage Therapy


 Everything you wanted to know about your headache.

massage for headache

Stress Headache


All headaches fall into one of two categories, primary or secondary.  A secondary headache is associated with a disease or illness whereas a Primary headache is not associated with other diseases.  A few examples of Primary headaches are tension headaches, migraine headaches and cluster headaches.

Primary headaches fall into one of four categories.

Types of headache pain

Types of headache pain

  • Sinus Headache  Sinus headaches cause a dull, deep, throbbing pain in the front of your head and face. They are caused by an inflammation in your sinuses (air-filled cavities around your nose, eyes, and cheeks). Bending down or leaning over generally makes the pain worse, as does cold and damp weather. Sinus headaches often begin as soon as you get up in the morning, and may be better by afternoon. Sinus headaches can be difficult to diagnose, however, because symptoms are similar to tension headaches and migraines.
  •  Cluster Headaches are sharp, extremely painful headaches that tend to occur several times per day for months and then go away for a similar period. They are far less common. A cluster headache is one of the most painful types of headache. A striking feature of cluster headache is that the attacks occur in cyclical patterns, or clusters — which gives the condition its name. Bouts of frequent attacks — known as cluster periods — may last from weeks to months, usually followed by remission periods when the headache attacks stop completely. The pattern varies from one person to another, but most people have one or two cluster periods a year. During remission, no headaches occur for months, and sometimes even years. Fortunately, cluster headache is rare and not life-threatening. Treatments can help make the attacks shorter and less severe. In addition, preventive medications can help reduce the number of headaches.
  • Tension Headaches are headaches that tend to happen again and again, especially if you are under stress. Most headaches are tension headaches. They are not usually a sign of something serious, but they can be very painful and hard to live with.

             Symptoms of tension headaches include:

A headache that is constant, not throbbing. You usually feel the pain or pressure on both sides of your head.

Pressure that makes you feel like your head is in a vise.

Aching pain at your temples or the back of your head and neck.

  • Migraines are chronic headaches that can cause significant pain for hours or even days. Symptoms can be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down. Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms or signs (auras), such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg. A migraine is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are painful, sometimes disabling headaches that are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise, and smell. These throbbing headaches usually occur on only one side of the head, although the pain can shift from one side of the head to the other, or can occur on both sides at the same time. Migraines involve changes in chemicals and blood vessels in the brain, which trigger pain signals leading to headache and other symptoms. Migraine headaches tend to recur. A migraine headache typically lasts 4 to 24 hours but in some cases can last up to 3 days. Some people have symptoms, such as visual disturbances, that occur before a headache starts. These symptoms are called a migraine aura. Some people have several headaches per month; others have headaches much less often.

 How can massage help your headaches?


Nearly everyone has suffered the pain of a headache. Headaches can last for a few hours up to several days, and sometimes involve symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light. They can cause serious consequences on daily life when they occur frequently or for an extended period of time. Therapeutic Massage is one natural and effective alternative to allopathic medicine that can help relieve headaches while avoiding the side effects that often accompany prescription and over-the-counter headache medications.

Since many tension headaches and migraine headaches are accompanied by neck pain, headache sufferers find that manual therapies such as massage offer relief from headache pain and related symptoms. Because massage therapy relaxes tense muscles, relieves muscle spasms, improves blood flow and aids relaxation, it can be helpful for relieving the pain of both tension and vascular headaches.

The American Journal of Public Health did a study on the effectiveness of massage therapy for people who suffer from frequent headaches.  Each subject received a total of eight 30-minute massage therapy sessions during a 4-week treatment period.  The results of this study suggest that massage therapy is effective in reducing the number of headaches per week in chronic tension headache sufferers. Compared with baseline levels, headache frequency was reduced within 1 week of massage treatment.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447303/

According to the American Massage Therapy Association:

A recent study showed that massage therapy recipients exhibited fewer migraines and better sleep quality during the weeks they received massage, and the three weeks following, than did participants that did not receive massage therapy. Another study found that in adults with migraine headaches massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms. It also increased serotonin levels, believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite.

We have many clients come in for a thirty minute or an hour massage session to relieve headaches associated with neck and upper back tension.  Every single client that has come to us for headache treatment has stated that their headache was gone before they walked out the door.  This is not to say that massage is the answer to all headache pain. If you suffer from frequent headaches, please consult with your physician regarding your headaches before initiating a massage therapy program for headache relief. Once you have the “all clear”, please give us a call and let us help you. Nobody should suffer from unnecessary pain.

Be well!

Rodney and Sandy

One thought on “Headaches and Massage Therapy

  1. I not only use some of these techniques on myself,but also of some of my clients.
    After massageing the head neck and pressure points around the face, headaches melt away and help relax the rest of the body.
    Thank you for your information!