Craniosacral Therapy for Migraine Relief - Custom Fit Physical Therapy

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Craniosacral Therapy for Migraine Relief


Discover the Most Effective Form of Therapy for Migraine Pain Relief

The key to experiencing relief from migraines is to address the root cause of the problem, learn the pattern of the migraine and know the triggers. Many healthcare practitioners are just treating the symptoms of the headache without understanding the root cause of the problem which will only lead to temporary relief of the pain.

It is also important to understand the difference between a headache and a migraine to allow for proper diagnosis . Understanding these contributing factors and triggers will help reduce the frequency and the chance of a migraine attacks. It will also assist doctors, physical therapists and healthcare practitioners to offer the most effective migraine treatment plan tailored to their patients.

Headaches present themselves quite differently from migraines:

  • Tension headaches: These muscle contraction headaches cause mild to moderate pain from the neck to forehead. It may feel like a band of pain around the forehead.
  • Temporal headaches: These type of headaches can be caused by clenching, grinding and history of TMJ.
  • Cluster headaches: Pain is centered in and around the eye.
  • Sinus headache: Pain is behind brow line and cheekbones.
  • Migraines: Intense pain on one side of the head always repeated in the same area and is worse with movement. It is accompanied by sensitivity to sound, smell and light along with nausea, vomiting and dizziness. The person may experience aura. Experiencing a migraine 5+ days per month is considered chronic migraine.

In addition, the Trigeminal nerve when overstimulated can be a major contributor for migraines that is frequently overlooked. The person can experience pain into the jaw, sinus and mouth. This is especially true if there is a history of TMJ.

The diagram below demonstrates the pain distribution with the different types of headaches:


Different types of factors that can contribute to migraines:

There are two types: lifestyle factors and medical factors. Lifestyle factors include habits built into your routine and daily life, while medical factors are more physical factors that require a close examination of your medical history to understand.

Image from American Migraine Foundation

Headaches Chart

Lack of sleep can contribute to migraine intensity and frequency.

Studies have shown that those who get less than six hours of sleep per night experienced more frequent migraines.

What can contribute to poor sleep:

  • Alcohol
  • Eating late at night or before bed
  • Watching the news right before bed
  • Checking your iphone /Ipad before bed(FB, Instagram etc)
  • Stress

Establish wind-down time. Do a quiet, relaxing activity before bed that doesn'tinvolve a screen. Read a book, listen to soft music, pray or meditate. Don't sleep with your smartphone on your bedside table. (It is so tempting to check it!)

Sleep problems can trigger migraines by causing instability of serotonin levels. Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. It is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, and overall function.

It is important to include regular exercise as part of your healthy routine


However, research as shown that high intensity exercise can be a trigger for some migraine suffers.

If you get migraines, you may find that intense exercise triggers your migraines. In one study, 38% of participants experienced migraines as a result of or in association with exercise.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise at a high level. I have struggled with migraines and I am a cyclist but very rarely have I experienced a migraine after cycling or exercise.

Just be aware if you do experience a migraine after exercise that you may need to decrease the intensity.

Diet and Migraine

Evidence suggests that having a deficiency in magnesium is common in people who experience frequent migraines. Symptoms of being low in magnesium include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and muscle cramping.

Magnesium is an essential mineral that our bodies need to function properly. It can improve bone health, stabilize blood pressure, control blood sugar and improve nerve function.

Studies have shown that magnesium is a safe and effective remedy for migraines. One study revealed that regular intake of magnesium reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by 41.6%! That is huge!

Studies have shown that taking 500mg of oral magnesium have reduced both the frequency and severity of migraines. It is best to have a blood test first to see if you are low in magnesium before taking any supplementation.

If you prefer not to take any supplementation here are some foods that contain magnesium:

  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Black beans/lentils
  • Bananas
  • Tuna
  • Figs

Food triggers known to contribute to migraines:

  • Sugar
  • MSG
  • Alcohol
  • Skipping meals
  • Gluten (if you have a sensitivity to gluten)

Stay Hydrated!


Many studies have demonstrated that dehydration is a common cause of chronic migraines.

In addition, dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, confusion, affect muscle cell function(cause weakness), contribute to low back pain, and affect brain function.

This means that dehydration can affect our central nervous system!

When the brain is dehydrated your body will feel increased levels of pain(especially if you have chronic joint pain or frequent migraines).

To avoid dehydration, focus on drinking plenty of water throughout the day. There are a variety of opinions as to how much water a person should drink.(coffee, tea, and soda don’t count towards your water intake since it is a diuretic). The amount of water intake depends on your lifestyle and activity level.

Decrease Your Stress Level

Stressed Woman

"I believe we cant have optimal physical healing if we dont address the emotional component that is triggering the migraine."

I know from personal experience how difficult life challenges can create major stress, drain your energy, steal your spirit, and create a great deal of pain physically and emotionally.

Stress can be a major factor in contributing to migraines and many other diseases.

We often hold our “issues in our tissues” which overtime accumulates in our body. It is like a sealed container ready to erupt and can present itself as migraine, chronic pain or physical disease.

So what are your stressors? What are you anxious about? Are you taking on other people’s stuff?

Here are some helpful strategies:

  • Give yourself permission to feel the feelings
  • Exercise (go for a walk/run)
  • Set healthy boundaries(What do you need to say “NO” to decrease your stress)
  • Practice good self-care and put your own oxygen mask on first!

Alternative treatments for Migraines That Don’t Include Medication:


Craniosacral therapy can be a very effective form of treatment for the patient suffering from migraine pain.

What is Craniosacral Therapy(CST)?

A gentle light-touch manual therapy that addresses the central nervous system releasing tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction. It is intended to decrease stress, tension, improves whole-body health,  and increases the immune system.

How is Craniosacral Therapy performed?

In a quiet relaxing setting, while fully clothed and lying on a comfortable table. Delicate manual techniques are then used to release tissue restrictions that are found throughout your head and body.

How Can Craniosacral Therapy Help With My Headaches?

Craniosacral Therapy helps to release restrictions and tensions throughout the membranes that attach to the inside of the skull and spinal cord. It helps to take pressure off the central nervous system and allows for the proper flow of the cerebrospinal fluid.

The goal is to correct and create balance where there may be dysfunction within the craniosacral system. Removing any restrictions within the meninges (spinal cord membranes) can effectively help release and prevent the pain of migraines.

In addition, Craniosacral therapy can greatly affect the Trigeminal nerve which research as found when this nerve is over stimulated it can have a major role in contributing to migraine.

Research has shown that these meningeal membranes and fascia (connective tissue) are the only pain-sensitive tissues in the brain. Therefore, these restrictions can cause a significant amount of pressure on the blood vessels.

In addition, pressure on the brain from surrounding fascia can cause sensory neurons to signal messages to the higher brain center; hence these pain receptors can create the migraine pain.

I advise all my patients to keep a migraine journal which allows them to understand their migraine triggers and patterns. When we discover the migraine trigger it helps to decrease the frequency of the migraine and to help create the most effective treatment plan.

Journal the date and time of migraine. In addition to foods you ate, stressors your may have had, medication or supplementation you took, changes in temperature or barometric pressure. Be as detailed as possible.

We would love to help you by inviting you to book a call to talk with one of our physical therapists to find out what we can do to help you.

Click the button below to book a call with us if you would like to get some solid advice given to you over the phone. Our goal is to help you find relief from the pain of chronic migraines and headaches.

Martha Tassinari

Martha Tassinari

Martha graduated from Northeastern University, in Boston Massachusetts, with a degree in Physical Therapy in 1994 and later studied Craniosacral Therapy, Myofascial release and Neurokinetic Therapy. She is a lung cancer survivor and is passionate about helping women heal physically, emotionally, and energetically. In addition, she is a life coach and empowers others to take charge of their health and self-care so they can have more energy, decrease stress, implement healthy boundaries, and live life with more freedom, peace, and joy. Feel free to check out her life coaching services at
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