All Relaxellent massage services are provided by a male masseur only.
An answer to chronic, long-term migraines, this massage focuses on trigger points and muscles surrounding the scalp, forehead, neck and upper back. Coupled with a powerful mix of essential oils to induce the release of natural opioids in the brain to produce an analgesic effect.
At Relaxellent we’ve developed our Migraine-ease Massage to specifically focus on targeting areas of the body and head that cause migraines. This extends from reducing toxic cortisol build up, reducing excessive inflammatory chemicals to enhancing migraine relieving serotonin levels – our multi-targeted approach ensures effectiveness.
How Massages Work for Pain Relief
Of course, stress can cause a migraine. But it’s not until the ‘let down’ after the stressful episode when a fluctuation in ‘cortisol’ levels occur. Studies show migraine sufferers have higher levels of cortisol and it’s now known that stress-inducing ‘cortisol’ contributes to the extreme pain of a migraine. However, you’re in good care with massage. Studies show massage therapy reduces cortisol levels by a staggering 31%. Further reductions can be achieved by using stress-reducing activities such as:
- Breathing exercises
- Tai chi or Yoga
- Herbal and nutritional medicine
Muscle Tension-Migraine Connection
We all know massage excels at relieving tight, locked up and tensed muscles but can tight muscles around the upper back, neck and head cause migraine? We turn to the peer-reviewed journal articles to find out:
A study concluded: “musculoskeletal dysfunction of the neck is a contributing factor to the aetiology of a migraine and tension headache” after studying 37 migraine sufferers compared to 37 non-migraine sufferers. They each went through a ‘range of motion’ exercises such as rotation, side bending, flexion and extension whilst in a seated position. They discovered the migraine group ‘had more abnormal physical findings’.
A study blindly analysed 25 patients with unilateral (one-sided) a migraine and 25 healthy subjects. Results showed an increased tenderness in migraine sufferers of the following muscles: sternocleidomastoid, sub-occipital, and temporalis.
Pain thresholds were tested on the neck-shoulder muscles of 20 patients with Chronic tension-type headaches and 20 patients with Unilateral migraine sufferers – and 20 healthy controls. Results found a lower threshold for pain (thus increased pain sensitivity) on those with both Tension headaches and Unilateral migraine compared to the 20 health controls. Specific muscles with low pain thresholds were: The Trapezius and Levator scapulae muscles.
In yet another study, 26 patients were examined during a migraine attack. Observations demonstrated a 28% increase in the tenderness of the Pericranial muscles (Temporal muscle) during a migraine. Incidentally, those with a unilateral migraine (occurring on one side of the head) – Pericranial muscles were most tender on the same side as the migraine pain.
Based on these scientific studies, there are ‘specific’ muscle groups that are extra sensitive with a low pain threshold in migraine sufferers. These ‘sore muscle groups’ are involved in the aetiology of a migraine.
Now that we know what muscles are specifically involved with migraine pain, we can use massage therapy to reduce the soreness in these muscles! When the ‘pressure’ is taken off these muscles, it reduces the pain signal and migraine pain is abolished.
Oxygen to the Brain
Scientists at the University of Rochester medical centre propose that migraine attacks can cause some parts of the brain to experience severe oxygen shortage. An attack can cause tiny transient strokes which can damage the brain. So there is a crucial need to ‘avoid’ and ‘prevent’ migraine attacks rather than dulling them once they have occurred.
The team at the University of Rochester imaged the brains of mice during a migraine attack. It was found there was a huge demand for energy, in an attempt to restore chemical balance, blood flow and oxygen.
Blood vessels dilate and expand during a migraine, and are able to take up even more oxygen. However, there are other specific brain areas that experience severe oxygen shortage (hypoxia) during a migraine. The consequences of the oxygen shortage are similar to having a mini-stroke. The brains of mice after a migraine showed damage that resembled repeated transient ischemic attacks (repeated mini-strokes).
Neurologist, Deborah Friedman, M.D says ‘A few studies have found that people who get auras with their migraines are at increased risk for vascular problems like heart attack and stroke’. link
The brain is a very oxygen demanding organ and any situation it’s placed in where there is a reduction in oxygen is dangerous. We now know a ‘migraine attack’ is one such situation.
A Cochrane review showed that Oxygen therapy was seen to alleviate a migraine with a meta-analysis of 11 trials. Perhaps this gives us insight into another aspect of how massage helps with alleviating migraine. The pressure applied to the muscles and vasculature around the neck produces ‘redness’ by stimulating ‘dilation’ of blood vessels. The dilation of blood vessels induces increased oxygen flow and penetrates deeper into nearby structures. Thus encouraging more oxygen to the brain!
The Inflamed Brain Inducing Pain
Migraine sufferers have higher levels of pain, mediating inflammatory chemicals known as ‘cytokines’. Massage has been shown to decrease ‘cytokines’ as evidenced by a study using actual ‘muscle biopsies’ after massage therapy. Specifically, Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) and Interleukin 6 (IL-6) were reduced after massage therapy. The results mean less pain inducing cytokines available to aggravate the trigeminal nerve in the brain.
The Happy ‘feel good’ Chemical to the Rescue
The most strongest, single causative factors for migraine over the past 50 years has been implicated with ‘5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) or more commonly known as ‘Serotonin’.
How Serotonin Affects Migraines
During a migraine attack, the body ‘increases serotonin levels’ (in an attempt to calm a migraine).
Anti-psychotic medication ‘Reserpine’ reduces Serotonin levels. As a consequence it induces a migraine in susceptible subjects.
Intravenous injections of Serotonin relieve a migraine.
Medications known as ‘triptans’ induce Serotonin release and are prophylactic against migraines.
Low serotonin levels activate the trigeminal nerve and cause migraines.
Research has shown Massage therapy increases serotonin levels by up to 28%. Further strategies to increase Serotonin production are:
Specialised herbal/nutritional approaches
- Psychological CBT
Massage is capable of targeting multiple key elements involved in the aetiology of a migraine. It’s able to reduce dangerous chronically high cortisol levels, dampen inflammation, increase oxygenation to the brain and enhances a critical neurotransmitter required for pain control called “Serotonin”.
Enhancing the effects of massage therapy are associated with lifestyle modifications such as exercise, dietary strategies and appropriate herbal and nutritional supplement use (based on the treatment by a professional). All of our migraine massage services extend from Shepparton to the surrounding areas of Echuca, Benalla, Kyabram, Wangaratta, Cobram and Bendigo.
*** ASK US ABOUT OUR NATUROPATHIC APPROACH TO MIGRAINE RELIEF ***
- 1. Bennett MH, French C, Schnabel A, Wasiak J, Kranke P, Weibel S. ‘Normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment and prevention of migraine and cluster headache’. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 12.
- 2. Crane JD, et al. ‘Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage’. Sci Transl Med. 2012; DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3002882.
- 3. Crane JD, Ogborn DI, Cupido C, Melov S, Hubbard A, Bourgeois JM, Tarnopolsky MA. ‘Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage’. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Feb 1;4(119):119ra13.
- 4. Eugenia Rota, Franco Mongini. ‘Muscle Tenderness and Psychiatric Comorbidity: A Vicious Cycle in Migraine Chronicization’. Front Neurol. 2014; 5: 148.
- 5. Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C, Cuadrado ML, Arendt-Nielsen L, Pareja JA. ‘Side-to-side differences in pressure pain thresholds and pericranial muscle tenderness in strictly unilateral migraine’. Eur J Neurol. 2008 Feb;15(2):162-8. Epub 2007 Dec 18.
- 6. Fernández-de-las-Peñas C, Madeleine P, Caminero AB, Cuadrado ML, Arendt-Nielsen L, Pareja JA. ‘Generalized neck-shoulder hyperalgesia in chronic tension-type headache and unilateral migraine assessed by pressure pain sensitivity topographical maps of the trapezius muscle’. Cephalalgia. 2010 Jan;30(1):77-86.
- 7. Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, ‘Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy’. Int J Neurosci. 2005 Oct;115(10):1397-413.
- 8. Hamel E. ‘Serotonin and migraine: biology and clinical implications’. Cephalalgia. 2007 Nov;27(11):1293-300.
- 9. J. D. Crane, D. I. Ogborn, C. Cupido, S. Melov, A. Hubbard, J. M. Bourgeois, M. A. Tarnopolsky. Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Science Translational Medicine, 2012; 4 (119): 119ra13.
- 10. Jensen K, Tuxen C, Olesen J. ‘Pericranial muscle tenderness and pressure-pain threshold in the temporal region during common migraine’. Pain. 1988 Oct;35(1):65-70.
- 11. Kidd RF1, Nelson R. ‘Musculoskeletal dysfunction of the neck in migraine and tension headache’. Headache. 1993 Nov-Dec;33(10):566-9.
- 12. Meliha Aydın, Caner Feyzi Demir, Adalet Arıkanoğlu, Serpil Bulut, Nevin İlhan, ‘Plasma Cytokine Levels in Migraineurs During and Outside of Attacks’. Eur J Gen Med 2015; 12(4):307-312
- 13. Peres MF, Sanchez del Rio M, Seabra ML, Tufik S, Abucham J, Cipolla-Neto J, Silberstein SD, Zukerman E, ‘Hypothalamic involvement in chronic migraine’. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2001 Dec;71(6):747-51.
- 14. Rakesh Malhotra. ‘Understanding migraine: Potential role of neurogenic inflammation’. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2016 Apr-Jun; 19(2): 175–182.
- 15. Recober A, Goadsby PJ. ‘Calcitonin gene-related peptide: A molecular link between obesity and migraine?’. Drug News Perspect. 2010 Mar;23(2):112-7.
- 16. R. B. Lipton, D. C. Buse, C. B. Hall, H. Tennen, T. A. DeFreitas, T. M. Borkowski, B. M. Grosberg, S. R. Haut. ‘Reduction in perceived stress as a migraine trigger: Testing the “let-down headache” hypothesis’. Neurology, 2014.
- 17. Singhal AB, Maas MB, Goldstein JN, Mills BB, Chen DW, Ayata C, Kacmarek RM, Topcuoglu MA. ‘High-flow oxygen therapy for treatment of acute migraine: A randomized crossover trial’. Cephalalgia. 2017 Jul;37(8):730-736.
- 18. Szczudlik A. ‘The role of serotonin in the pathophysiology of migraine’. Neurol Neurochir Pol. 1992;Suppl 2:14-27.
- 19. University of Rochester Medical Center. ‘Migraine Headaches May Cause Brain Damage, Mouse Study Shows.’ ScienceDaily. 30 April 2007.