Cryotherapy for migraine. Sound far-fetched? Actually, it’s not. Our experience here at Peak Recovery & Health Center may help. But first let’s get some background.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, more than 39 million people (men, women, and even children) suffer from migraine in the U.S. More than 90% of those are incapacitated during an attack, which is to say they cannot work or function normally when a migraine has them in its grip.
Here, to me, is the Migraine Research Foundation’s most devastating finding: “Healthcare costs are 70% higher for a family with a migraine sufferer than a non-migraine affected family.” This vicious condition doesn’t just mess with your life. It costs you out of pocket.
As I have written in this blog before, sufferers generally try to manage their attacks by identifying the conditions that trigger a migraine and avoiding those triggers. Nearly three quarters of migraines are triggered by stress. For most sufferers, then, the protocol is straightforward: manage stress, manage migraines.
Several of the services offered by Peak Recovery & Health Center dovetail with stress management, so it should come as no surprise that our regular clients include some migraine sufferers. Since we also have migraine sufferers on staff, we have developed some small expertise in migraine management. We are not a medical operation, but we are pretty good at getting people relaxed.
When Prevention Can’t Help
Relaxation doesn’t always work, however. Sometimes you can’t avoid your triggers or sometimes your stress management fails, and the migraine gets you anyway. At that point, if you’re going to keep functioning and earning a living, you need pain relief. And it’s doubtful that a couple aspirin can get you back to your desk or enable you to drive to school to pick up the kids.
Many migraine sufferers have learned that cold can help control the pain. A Google search on “ice for migraine” yielded more than 21 million hits, including sites for specialized ice packs designed to fit on your head. It stands to reason. Pain often indicates the presence of inflammation or swelling, and cold is a natural way to control that.
Cryotherapy for Migraine
But if you read this blog regularly, then you know how I feel about ice. It’s uncomfortable. It’s difficult to control. If administered carelessly, it can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. That’s why we recommend localized cryotherapy (we call it isolated cryotherapy, or ISO), which can provide migraine pain relief to some sufferers. This is not the whole-body cryotherapy I often write about, but a technology that directs the same extreme cold to a particular part of the body.
Staff member Shaina describes how she discovered the application of cryotherapy to migraine: “I felt a migraine coming on one day on my way into work and as soon as I got in I decided to try ISO. Since I didn’t have any ice packs and knew I wouldn’t be able to lock myself in a dark quiet room and hope for it to pass, I figured why not? It actually helped keep the major stuff at bay and I was able to get through my shift comfortably.”
One of the great things about this method is the targeting. If your migraines tend to occur on one side of your head, we can direct the cooling to that side. If they focus on your neck, we can work there. Furthermore, our cryotherapy operators have been trained to do this safely and in a way that is entirely comfortable.
If you start to feel distant and strange and recognize the feeling as a telltale warning sign of a migraine, call us (603-402-4564). We’ll get you in as quickly as possible for ISO, and you may be able to avoid the worst effects.