National Migraine Centre
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Physiotherapy for migraine

I get migraines infrequently, but when I get them they are very bad, totally incapacitating. I have recently had a few weeks physiotherapy, consisting of manipulation and exercises to loosen my back and neck. The physio. is a migraine specialist who believes that tension and constriction in the back and neck and bad posture are the primary cause of migraine. As my migraines are infrequent I had no way of knowing if the treatment was working. Then on Sunday I got a really bad migraine (a second triptan one) and then yesterday, Tuesday, I got another. So the physio. may have made things worse rather than better. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

8 Replies

Yes I have had the same experience multiple times. Massage and physio therapists cannot resist feeling they can cure migraine with manipulating the neck. I only work with practitioners who will collaborate with me and believe me when I say my neck cannot be touched. Cranial Sacral work does the same thing-- a nightmare balloon of a blinding migraine ensues, & can last days. You have to trust the therapist 100%, trust yourself 200%, and communicate clearly!


Hi Walker47

I have exactly the same thing but I see a myotherapist who work on the deeper tissue , muscles and ligaments ( like a sports massage) . 3 sessions with him and it unlocks my back and shoulders enough that I can get up to 3-6 months relief from it. You need someone who believes in fibromyalgia as usually the neck and back problems that occur with migraine is fibro related.

Good luck

Sarah x


Yes I had the same thing., Deep massage and manipulation always sets of migraine for me.


I'm not too familiar with physio but I see a chiro and I can walk in with a chronic tension headache/migraine and neck tension and feel 100% when I walk out the door

Each to their own you have to have trust in the person that is performing muscular or spinal adjustments otherwise you judgement on whether or not it is working will be cloudy

Always helps if the person can back up what they are doing and has a proper understanding of what link their procedure has to helping you with your headaches because uncertainty could possibly make it worse

All the best 😊😊😊


It's true-- if the migraine is tension related, massage can relieve it, especially in the early stages. I have had that happen on a few occasions. For me, massaging the muscles inside the shoulder blades relieves tension up to and including my scull so neck can be left untouched. Best wishes and prayers for relief.


I tried Physio for a year which set me back £500 . They kept saying they could cure me by using the Watson headache technique. Certainly did not make any difference at all ! Hope you have more success than me. I know we will try anything that may help as we have such a terrible condition X good luck


Hi. Yes I too suffer from what I originally thought was hormonal migraine now realise migraine actually starts from my neck pain. Migraines started when I was around 34 and thinking back my neck was always in lot of pain. Now in early 50's migraines bad just now also neck pain. Physio will work if you give it time. Does cause discomfort afterwards but will help. I recently had to go back to my doctor as I was taking more sumtriptan than usual, migraines were coming almost every week and lasting 3 days. Now on Topiramate 25mg (Topamax) for 5 weeks and now feeling difference. Also going back for more physio for neck.

Topiramate prevents migraines but you have to give it time to work, they make you very tired at first and light headed. Now I and glad I kept taking tablets. Doc said I should see him every 4 weeks just to check in. Eventually, will be able to come off tabs, fingers crossed.

As for neck, try feather pillows , these are only ones that work for me.



I had cranial osteopathy for a year. Weekly and then fortnightly and monthly. But I do agree that I think once your neck and back are being played around with, it probably hinders more than does a good job. I spent £40 a go and quit because I could not see any progress in my migraine diary. Shame as I would like a complimentary therapy to work rather than the preventative tablets I shovel down my neck every night! Wish you success.


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