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Eliminating and mitigating cluster headaches through trigger point massage

A Way Out

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Hi All,

In the past few weeks, I've been doing a lot of renovations, and the fall is here, and I've started getting cluster headaches again. But this time I only had one full-on blown headache, and it was a 1 on the 1-10 scale of cluster headaches. I've had shadows 10 or 15 times, but I wouldn't call them full blown headaches. The frequency and intensity of the shadows has been decreasing, and they're almost gone after 2 weeks.


So I'd like to share how I've come to basically eliminate cluster headaches from my life.


I'm quite confident that knots in the neck are the primary cause of the cluster headache. I use a trigger point cane massager to relieve the knots, and this has prevented cluster headache for a couple years. I also practice an active form of relaxing the muscles in the next and back, and work to preserve go is standing and sitting posture. If you're just starting a cycle, the trigger-point massage can provoke shadow-type cluster headaches, but rarely full-blown. It is not an effective treatment IN THE MIDST of a cluster headache, but it doesn't do any harm and the pain couldn't be much worse, anyway.

I discovered this relationship after 20 years of cluster headaches, with a 2 to 3 month cycle coming every 2 or 3 years.

Many people experience knots in the neck during a cluster cycle, but I'm quite confident that everyone experiencing cluster headaches has a knot in their neck, and that the know precedes the headaches. 


Here's a study backing up my claim, but I encourage everyone here to get a trigger point massage stick, practice relaxation and self-care, and find out if I'm right for themselves.


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Glad you found what works.....and you have company.....this thread may be of interest: 


(search term of "cluster knot" or "neck massage" or similar will get you lots more...this is the longest thread)

Seems the discussion in that thread was more re ice v massage. No personal experience as I've never had the lump....ice anywhere on the head puts me though the roof...and I have "massaged" the crap out of my head and neck to no avail...alas.

I am fully willing to accept and applaud that this is a remarkable and relevant strategy for some...but that the age of the threads and the study you posted (thank you!) are indicative of a less than universal efficacy.... or it would be more widely known to the community.  Was there any follow up research from these folks?




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No, it appears that there was no further research. The NIH should be funding this kind of study, because the preliminary evidence suggests trigger points are a major factor and treatment of trigger points is very effective. But it appears they're not, or the researchers lost interest. 

Most of the large studies are funded by pharma/device manufacturer cash, for obvious reasons. Even then, treatment for something that effects a small number of people, like CH, is difficult to fund. The best bet is through foundations like Cluster Busters. 



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For some reason this reminded me of Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). There is probably a connection with myofascial trigger points and fight and flight reflex. I think it would be nice if someone would look more through research into this kind of approach as well. It could be included in discussion about how hypothalamus dysfunction is born.

Edited by Tony Only
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Speaking from a scientific standpoint, it seems early to say that CH is caused by the hypothalamus, though it's clear the hypothalamus is involved in some fashion. 

From a treatment standpoint, I'm exceedingly confident that treating trigger points in the neck and shoulders is an effective remedy for CH, in some cases. And I'd give pretty good odds that it's an effective remedy in most, even all.

Unfortunately, there's a dearth of research in this area, despite excellent preliminary findings. 

On the other hand. It's a treatment that's available for most sufferers. Find the trigger points in you neck and shoulders that, when pushed hard, create sensations of pain behind the eye, in the jaw, and at the temple. Then massage those areas thoroughly for a couple weeks while taking care of posture and actively relaxing. Whether it works or not, report back for the rest of the CH sufferers.

Edited by A Way Out
Single typo
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