When a migraine attack is in full swing, and the pain is overwhelming, finding relief can feel impossible. Here are some migraine hacks using inexpensive items you probably have around the house that can help bring some respite. Not all of them will work for everyone — some might even sound terrible for you — but I hope everyone finds at least one idea for relief in this list.
A tube sock/Ace banadage/strip of fabric
Tying a tube sock around my head to counter the throbbing pain is my favorite migraine hack. I put the knot at the temple where the pain is worst, which provides extra pressure at a critical point for me. I purchased tube socks specifically for this purpose, but any stretchy fabric will work in a pinch.
Pulling your hair (gently but firmly)
Whether it’s because pulling provides some relief in the skull, as a craniosacral therapist told me, or because the sensation counteracts the feeling of my head imploding, pulling my hair provides a lot of relief. I grab by the handful and pull as much as feels good. It’s not enough to yank my hair out, of course, but it feels more comfortable when I don’t have a migraine attack.
Ice is a soothing sensation for many people with migraine. It can take trial and error to get the right level of cold, and what feels right can vary depending on the severity of the migraine attack, so you may have to play around with it. Sometimes I rub ice cubes directly on my head, but I more often use a flexible ice pack wrapped in a towel. There are ice packs designed to encase the head — I find those too intense, but they may be perfect for you. As good as ice may feel, keep in mind that it can be dangerous to ice your skin for too long. The safety guideline is to ice for no more than 20 minutes with an hour-long break in between.
Some people swear by heat on their heads to relieve the pain, whether it’s a hot shower, heating pad, or a heat pack. If you don’t have the energy to shower and don’t have a heat pack at home, you can fill a sock with rice and heat it in the microwave in a pinch. While I can’t stand the sensation of heat on my head during a migraine attack, I do use heating packs to warm my feet, which tend to become frigid. While this doesn’t relieve my head pain, it does relieve some discomfort that comes with an attack.
Lying down with tennis balls placed below your occipital ridge (right under the bony area where your skull meets your neck) can relieve neck and head pain. I like putting the tennis balls in a sock, so they don’t roll around, making them easy to position in the spot that provides the most relief. If lying directly on them is painful, you can move to a softer surface or put your head on a pillow to reduce the pressure on the tennis balls. If you’ve never tried this before, I recommend only doing it for a couple of minutes the first time to see how you do after. As good as it feels, I usually only do it for about 10 minutes to avoid a bruised sensation in the area the next day.
What are your migraine hacks?
There have to be a ton of migraine hacks out there that I’ve never even thought of. What are your migraine hacks?
My dark room: