Cold therapy

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Cold Therapy for migraines: an introduction

Cold therapy is often used for different types of aches and pains and is sometimes called cryotherapy.

Some people have had success using cold therapy for migraines to relieve head pain.

Cold therapy is often used for:

  • Arthritis
  • Pulled ligaments
  • Joint pain
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Pulled muscles

How does Cold help migraines

Cold therapy works by numbing the painful tissues, reducing muscle spasms and decreasing inflammation. Cold therapy can also ease muscle tension.

Sometimes cold therapy is used in conjunction with heat therapy.

Different products for Cold Therapy

  • Ice bag
  • Cold pack
  • Fluids, like ethyl chloride, that cool by evaporation
  • Cooling pads
  • Gel caps to be worn on the head
  • Cold compression wraps
  • Frozen gel packs inserted into headbands

Studies on Cold Therapy and migraines

There aren’t many studies that examine the impact of Cold Therapy on migraines. Those studies that have been conducted have looked at small numbers of patients.

One small study of 28 patients had migraine sufferers wear cold gel caps for two of their migraine attacks. The patients recorded how severe their migraine attacks were before and after using the cold caps for 25 minutes. The patients reported significantly less pain.


Possible side effects of cold therapy

Because cold therapy doesn’t involve ingesting any medications or supplements, there are few side effects from using this method of treatment.

  • Cold intolerance, sensitivity to cold
  • Lower skin temperature

Who should not use Cold Therapy for migraines

Before starting any type of therapy, you should consult your doctor, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, have any circulatory problems, diabetes or skin issues.

Stop the cold therapy immediately if you experience severe numbness in the area you’re applying the cold therapy and see your doctor before you resume exercising.



As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no treatment regimen, medication or supplement without first checking with your physician. Again, this information should in no way substitute or be mistaken for medical advice.

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