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

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


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).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cryotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Neck / physiology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Young Adult