Why Do Cold Compresses Ease Headache Pain?

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Headache types and causes vary from person to person. From tension and migraine varieties to cluster-type and mixed (a combination of single types), headaches can affect the life of those suffering them in a big way. Reducing stress and being aware of headache triggers are a good start to keeping head pain at bay.

Cryotherapy

Cold treatment, or cryotherapy, can be effective in providing headache relief. It is often applied to the forehead, temples or back of the neck.

Function

Cold compress application works by constricting blood vessels in the head, which, in turn, relieves pressure on surrounding nerves and eases head pain.

Types

Though a cold compress made with a folded wet hand towel is perhaps easiest to use, it also requires frequent cooling, as the cloth warms from body temperature. Other options for headache pain relief include topical cooling gel stick-on pads, gel packs or ice packs stored in the freezer.

Considerations

Cryotherapy is best suited for migraine or mixed-type headaches, while warm heat application is more effective for headaches that are caused by muscular tension.

Warning

Headaches that are significantly more painful or that last longer than usual should be evaluated by a health care practitioner.

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