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Many people are bothered by occasional headaches, and these can be troubling enough that you have difficulty performing routine activities. However, if you suffer from chronic migraines, that’s a whole different level of discomfort, and it can even be debilitating. Some over-the-counter medications can help relieve the symptoms of migraines. There are also some home remedies you can try which can be effective. Ice packs have been used for years to help alleviate pain in the neck or head, and this has the effect of numbing the area so that pain decreases.
Do ice packs work?
It has been widely accepted that using ice packs to treat migraines is an approach that has existed for at least 150 years. But is there any scientific reason why ice packs should be effective? There is. Cold from an ice pack constricts blood vessels and reduces pain transmission. Instead of the body feeling pain, it transmits a signal to the brain which says it is experiencing cold.
A study conducted recently found that applying a frozen wrap to the neck when a migraine first crops up could significantly reduce the level of pain experienced by an individual. Cooling agents applied to the neck may reduce inflammation in the brain by lowering blood flow to the carotid artery, consequently lowering pain levels.
Optimal usage of ice packs
It has become evident through a great deal of research that the best way to use ice packs for treating migraines is to apply them for about 15 or 20 minutes at a time. It also makes a difference exactly where you apply the ice pack and how it is applied. A body of research has shown that the best way to apply cold to the neck is in the form of a frozen neck wrap, and this has the best chance of reducing pain and discomfort from migraines.
Some doctors recommend placing the ice pack either directly where you feel the pain or at the base of the skull. Applying the ice pack for 20 minutes is advised to be followed by one hour without the ice pack, and then reapplying it for another 20 minutes. When you use this method, you should feel in succession the following sensations:
When you get to the point where you feel numbness from having applied the ice packs, this is a signal that you should remove the ice pack. If you were to leave the ice pack on longer than the numbness point, it could have a damaging effect on your skin. Also, during the burning phase, if you feel that the burning is too intense, you should remove the ice pack at that point. Some individuals are sensitive to cold more keenly than others, so this will always be a personal experience. You will have to monitor your sensations during treatment.
Align Wellness Center offers a variety of non-invasive treatment options, including chiropractic care treatment, for migraine headaches. Schedule a complimentary initial consultation by calling (847) 860-6599 or by completing our online form.