When you have a migraine headache – or a loved one has – you want a migraine remedy. You visited your physician before, and you know his advice was to take over-the-counter pain medication and rest in a dark room, but that isn’t enough. You want to get relief sooner.
One of your friends suggests getting migraine relief with ice, and you want to know more. What is a migraine remedy that uses ice?
Cryotherapy – the Ice Remedy
At the Department of Neurology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Lawrence D. Robbins, M.D. decided to study whether or not cryotherapy (treatment with ice) was effective as a migraine remedy. Dr. Robbins enlisted 45 migraineurs in his study and, when they experienced an episode, gave them only a cold head wrap as a migraine remedy. Here are some of Dr. Robbins’ findings.
* 35.5 percent of the 45 patients said that, as a migraine remedy, the ice was not at all effective.
* 29 percent of them said the ice remedy was a little bit effective for migraine relief.
* Cryotherapy was fairly effective for 26.5 percent of those participating.
* Only 9 percent said the cold head wrap was completely effective as a migraine remedy.
Robbins, Lawrence D., M.D (1989), Cryotherapy for Headache, Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 29 (9), 598-600.
If you were among the 35.5 percent who said the ice treatment was useless as a migraine remedy, you might never try it again. Nevertheless, as a result of his cryotherapy study, Dr. Robbins says: “You have a 50-50 chance of getting some pain relief within three minutes of applying a soft, cold ice pack wrapped in a towel to your head.”
Reasoning Behind the Ice Remedy
It is clear that the ice migraine remedy works for many people. It is clear, too, that it works to a degree most of the time. Perhaps a better understanding of how it works will help others test cryotherapy.
During a migraine episode, the blood vessels in the head tend to dilate – open more widely. They may become swollen with blood, causing pressure on the nerves surrounding them. The nerves begin to send pain signals, and you sense a migraine.
To get migraine relief with ice, you surround the head with a cold wrap, gradually cooling the blood vessels. As they cool, they become constricted, and return to normal size. This can lessen blood flow to the head, and reduce pressure on the nerves, providing a migraine remedy.
A relatively new product to hit the market, “Migraine Ice” headache pads are advertised as giving “instant cooling, soothing relief” that lasts, sometimes up to 4 hours. The pads are convenient, and require no refrigeration. Those who have frequent migraines can keep the pads in a desk or locker at work for a ready migraine remedy. To use, you simply remove the pad from its pouch, peel off a protective film, and apply the pad to the back of your neck.
Another convenient product that claims to provide migraine relief with ice is Soft Ice. This is available as either a neck wrap or a head wrap. Since this product delivers comfortable cold therapy that chills the head or neck, it may be just what you need as a migraine remedy.
Traditional Ice Pack
There are many brands of ice available to use as a migraine remedy, and most do the job equally well.
Obviously, you do not need a commercial cold wrap, though, to get migraine relief with ice. A simply, traditional ice pack will do as well. An ice pack is a waterproof bag with a cap at the top that allows you to fill the bag with ice. Once full, the bag is capped, and the ice pack can be applied to neck, forehead, or other parts of the head.
Alternative Ice Pack
If you are away from home, and do not have access to an ice pack, an alternative ice pack can be made with crushed ice and a towel. Simply place the crushed ice on the towel, and fold it to contain the ice.
To best use your ice migraine remedy, go to a dark room. Place the ice pack on your neck or head and rest.
CAUTION: To avoid frostbite, keep commercial cold packs in place for only 20 minutes at a time. If the skin begins to feel the least bit numb, remove the cold pack immediately.
This migraine headache information is for educational purposes only. Please seek advice from your physician for any migraine headache.