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Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2013 Jul;72(7):237-41.

Randomized controlled trial: targeted neck cooling in the treatment of the migraine patient.

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University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.


Cold therapy has long been the number one self-care treatment employed for migraine without aura and the second most common for migraine with aura, yet its mechanism remains elusive. In this study, a mechanism by which this time-tested therapy works is proposed (by cooling the blood passing through intracranial vessels) in an attempt to further elucidate its beneficial effects. The study is designed as a randomized, controlled, crossover clinical trial utilizing an adjustable wrap containing two freezable ice packs targeting the carotid arteries at the neck, where they come close to the skin surface. Fifty-five participants successfully completed the study. Pain at onset, as recorded on a visual analog scale, was similar between the two treatment arms. Maximum pain reduction was observed at the 30 minute time point with a 31.8% ± 15.2% decrease in pain in the treatment arm compared to a 31.5% ± 20.0% increase in pain at the same time interval in the control arm. These findings confirm the application of a frozen neck wrap at onset of migraine headache targeting the carotid arteries at the neck significantly reduced recorded pain in participants with migraine headaches (P<.001).

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