Photograph of a woman holding her head due to migraine pain

Migraine Headaches: Causes, Triggers, Natural Pain Relief

pt HealthHealth, Pain, Pain Relief


If you suffer from migraines, you’ve heard a lot of different and often conflicting advice from well-meaning friends, family, and coworkers. With all the information that’s out there, you might be wondering, are there any drug-free and natural migraine cures that actually work? Today we’ll go over some clinically proven ways to ease your migraines; some can even be done at home! Click here to skip right to our migraine relief tips!

What Causes Migraines?

Let’s start by discussing what could be causing your migraines in the first place. It’s important to note that there are different kinds of migraines and the exact cause for each still isn’t completely understood. However, research suggests that imbalanced brain chemicals, genetics, and the environment could all play a role.

Migraine Risks

While the exact cause of migraines has yet to be pinpointed, research suggests that you may have an increased chance of having a migraine if:

  • Migraines run in your family
  • You are in your thirties or younger
  • You are a woman
  • You take hormonal birth control pills or
  • You are undergoing hormone replacement therapy

Migraine Triggers

Migraine sufferers can tell you that any number of things can set off a migraine headache, these are called triggers. While triggers can vary from person to person, some migraine triggers include:

Tight & tense muscles: While the pain of migraine headaches is caused by blood vessels widening; tight, tense, or sore muscles in your neck, jaw and shoulders, as well as any dysfunction of those muscles, may also play a role.

Emotional stress: When you’re stressed your brain releases chemicals that can cause or worsen migraines. The worry, fear, and anxiety associated with stress can also aggravate symptoms.

Menstruation & hormonal changes: Women report an increase in migraine headaches during and just before their periods suggesting that estrogen levels could trigger migraines.

Foods & Beverages: Skipping meals and fasting can trigger migraines. It’s also suggested that cheese, highly salted food, processed foods, caffeinated beverages like coffee as well as alcoholic drinks (especially wine) may trigger migraines.

Additives & preservatives: MSG and Aspartame have both been sighted as possible migraine triggers.

Environment: Strong smells, bright lights, loud sounds, and changes in weather can trigger migraines.

Natural Migraine Relief

Now that we have a fuller understanding of possible migraine causes and triggers we can discuss some migraine solutions and home remedies.

Lifestyle Modification

Photograph of women doing yoga in a park

A lot of migraine triggers are associated with your general health including how well you eat, sleep, and exercise. With that in mind, modifying your lifestyle could be very beneficial. Physiotherapists have the training to assess your current lifestyle and help you make meaningful changes to improve your health which can help reduce your migraines.

Cold Therapy

Photo of a womn using cold therapy for migraine headache relief. She is placing a cold pack over the carotid arteries in her neck.

Placing an ice pack wrapped in a towel or cold neck wrap over the carotid arteries in the neck has been shown to significantly migraine reduce pain. It’s a simple and easy migraine home remedy, just wrap a cold pack around the rides of your neck for up to 30-minutes to get relief. Click here for more information about cold pack placement.


Studies have shown Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture to be as effective as continuous drug therapy in decreasing the number of migraine days. Further studies have shown that acupuncture may have lasting effects that can help you decrease migraine medications.

Manual Therapy

Photograph of a woman receiving manual therapy for migraine relief

If you’re looking for a natural and drug-free way to manage your migraines, manual therapy might be right for you. Manual therapies (like cervical mobilization) that target dysfunction in the neck can be a successful short-term treatment of migraine headaches. Not only that, but studies show that manual therapy is as effective as medication in decreasing the pain, intensity, and duration of migraines.

Massage Therapy

Photograph of a woman getting massage therapy for migraine relief

Massage therapy might be the most relaxing migraine solution as it helps release the muscle tension that can contribute to migraines with patients reporting a decrease in pain intensity by 71%. Studies show that massage therapy can significantly reduce the frequency of migraines both during treatment and up to 3-weeks after completion.

Find a pt Health clinic near you to start your treatment today!

The best treatment for your migraines is the one that works. Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, and Massage Therapists all have extensive training to help you find natural remedies for headaches and migraine relief that can work for you. Not only that, but most insurance plans will cover their care. Find a clinic near you.




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