Applying Heat or Cold for Migraine Relief

by : Li Ming Wong

Many migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine headaches) relieve the pain of a migraine with the judicious application of heat or cold. This type of pain abatement is particularly popular with people trying to minimize or avoid prescription medication use, especially among pediatric patients and their families.

Below are a few techniques that can help ease the pain of a migraine. Not all techniques work for all patients. While some migraineurs find comfort in cold, at least as many are more uncomfortable in the presence of cold. The same is true of heat used for pain relief-for some it helps, for others it makes the pain worse.

Apply a compress, hot or cold, to point on the head where pain is most severe. This is frequently on the temple where a large artery runs, or in front of the ear, another arterial locale.

For patients who feel their migraine pain "stabbing into the back of the eye" a damp cloth (warm or cool) laid over the eyes often provides relief. As a side benefit, covering the eyes in this manner also eases the discomfort of photosensitivity for many patients.

Taking a hot or cold shower with the water directed at the head and neck is another method to try, as is taking a warm (neither hot nor cold) bath. The latter is further enhanced with the use of appropriate aromatherapy techniques.

Some patients find relief in by alternating hot and cold cloths at the point where the migraine pain is most intense. Sometimes hot and cold used simultaneously can ease the pain. A migraineur may apply a cold compress on their forehead while at the same time soaking their feet in a container of warm water.

Rarely are patients simultaneously sensitive to both hot and cold, but it should be watched for.