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Ice vs. Heat: Which team are you on?

Hi everyone!

I'm a little curious about something, and I was wondering if you'd help me out. Some people swear by their ice hats that they wrap themselves in before escaping to their migraine cave, while others enjoy hot packs, warm showers, and heat wraps.

Do you find ice, heat, or both helpful when coping with your migraines? Why do you think it helps, and do you use it during a certain phase of your migraine?

Here on we also have resources related to cold and heat therapy. I will include them below for anyone who is interested.

For the basics on heat therapy, you can go to this link:

For the basics on cold therapy, you can go here:

Interested in an ice hat? Check out this article:

You can also share your experience with how you keep your ice packs cold here: Check out this thread if you need ideas about what type of ice pack might work for you, and clever solutions people use to keep them cold!

Share your secrets for using cold or hot therapy:

Thank you in advance to anyone who is willing to share their experience with cold and heat therapy. Our community thrives with your willingness to be open and vulnerable about such a difficult illness. I appreciate you all, and I'm so glad that you're here! - Cody (Team Member)

  1. Hi Cody! I am on team ice -- I find that cold is very soothing and I always have an ice pack in the freezer, ready to go. My husband, who also gets migraines, actually puts heat on his head. I know he's not feeling well when I see him putting his hot coffee cup up to his forehead. Which I find so bizarre, but it helps him! Recently I tried cryogenic therapy (2.5 minutes in a -160 degree F chamber) and it felt amazing to me. Cold brings down inflammation so to me, that makes sense. Curious to hear others' replies.

    1. im team Icepack. I have the hard ice packs you would put in a cooler. I wrap the icepack in a tShirt and the icepack stays cold for a really long time. I sometimes use the gel ice pack to put behind my neck. Sometime trying to avoid throwing up from the nausea caused by the migraines. The gel ones don’t stay cold very long. I have the gel hat one too. Again it doesn’t stay cold enough for long.

    2. Welcome to team ice! Thank you for sharing your strategies with us. Interesting to hear the ice helps you with nausea too. I agree the gel doesn't hold the cold as long. Have you tried something like the headache hat before? Lots of people seem to be recommending it here on a piece about how to keep ice packs cold: All the best- Holly ( team).

  2. Team Heat!!! I can't seem to tolerate any cold, anywhere!! Great topic, thanks for starting it.
    Nancy Harris Bonk, Patient Leader/Moderator Team

    1. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have these practitioners in our back pocket? I often wish I knew a massage therapist who was looking for some training hours from which I would greatly benefit! Glad your attacks are less often and less severe. That's wonderful to hear. To what do you attribute this change? Also, on the subject of holistic type practitioners- I really relate to the experience of feeling better in the moment, but things return upon standing or activity. I can't seem to find anything (massage, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy) that serves as a preventative. Warmly- Holly team

    2. the 1/2 cup frozen strawberry therapy is new to me! I love the sound of this and can actually picture it helping to break up pain due to the way the mouth connects to our ouchy brains. I'm going to have to try this! Thank you so much for sharing! Warmly- Holly team

  3. I'm also a heat guy! I always keep a heating pad around to null out the pain. My migraine (mygraines) often feeling like I'm getting brain freeze anyway, so naturally, I wanna blast myself with heat! It feels sooo nice and I couldn't recommend it enough. Hope you're having a great and symptom-free day! ~ Sawyer (team member)

    1. Ooo, I wish that it had an automatic shut off function. That would be awesome. Unfortunately, mine doesn't! - Cody (Team Member)

    2. Oh no! I hope it doesn't scorch you!!!! ~ Sawyer (team member)

  4. and all: You might find this video interesting about a call we did for hot and cold therapeutic ideas recently. Some really great ideas were given in the comment section that followed it: I myself prefer the cold every time! Warmly(and cooly!)- Holly team

    1. you have been dealing with this for a bit. I too tried Botox, acupuncture and a few meds. For me, the acupuncture from one provider helped, but from another, it did not. Botox worked for a few years, but stopped. It is hard when things stop working for us over time. I was on Atenolol and Verapamil instead of Propanolol. I used Elavil for about 10 years as well. I am currently doing well on Aimovig and the nasal Sumatriptan. I hope your current regimen continues to work for many years for you!! (Tonya, contributor).

    2. Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey with us. I do have vestibular migraines. I had to deal with migraines early in my teens, but nothing like the vestibular ones that began following neck surgery. The symptoms began about 2017, so I haven't had to cope with the vertigo and nausea associated with it for too long (not decades, as some have).

      It sounds like you've explored various options, from Botox to acupuncture, and have found a combination of medications like propranolol and amitriptyline that currently work for you. While it's encouraging that you've found some relief, I understand the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds. I frequently ask myself, "Can it get any worse?" and my answer is yes it could. So I hang on and muster through until the attack ends.

      I am currently in the cycle of "try this med", "try this med" and "it's not working, try this med" I am doing my best to hold on while my neurologist tackles my difficult migraines. And, I too feel I battle trying to get the care I need from him, as I feel he is just throwing meds at me. I'm glad you've found a few medications to help ease migraine pain. I am trialing a few medications as well but they make me very sleepy and very jumpy. Again, I remind myself ... hold on. Wishing you relief and comfort. Rebecca (team member)

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