September 19, 2009 in Features

Steam therapy eased her migraines

Peter H. Gott, M.D.
 

DEAR DR. GOTT: I had migraines for many years. They would be more intense during my menstrual cycles, when I would suffer with nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and my allergies would become worse.

During one of these migraines, I ended up in the emergency room because I had fainted at work. I will never forget the doctor who came in and grabbed my hand. He looked at me and asked if I had ever tried breathing in steam from hot water. I told him I hadn’t, so he advised me to place a towel over my head and breath in the steam. He said it would take a little while, but in about a month, I should start to see a difference. I thanked him and was discharged.

The next day, I began my regimen of steaming. I did it about three or four times a day and took about 12 deep breaths each time. I didn’t notice anything different initially, but the next month, I found I didn’t have as massive a migraine with my menstrual cycle as I normally did.

I now steam before and after work. My symptoms have subsided. If I feel a migraine coming, I steam. It usually subsides within an hour. This treatment saved my quality of life.

DEAR READER: Thank you for sharing this unusual treatment for migraines. Other sufferers who try this should inform me of their results so I can print a follow-up on its effectiveness.

To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Headaches.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

DEAR DR. GOTT: I would appreciate your thoughts on a medical problem. My guy is in his 40s and has had considerable pain for more than four months. He went to a chiropractor, who initially treated him and then sent him for an MRI. The results showed two herniated discs. He was then referred to a surgeon.

He does not want to have surgery but has to take pain medication and has a hard time just getting basic life tasks completed. His right hand and arm are so affected he can barely shave. Are there any other options such as physical therapy or traction that might help him? Could he be making his condition worse by not having the surgery?

DEAR READER: I understand his hesitation to having surgery. I urge him to request a referral to a physical therapist or a hospital-based physical-therapy program, where he can be evaluated and taken through a series of specially designed exercises. It may be several weeks before results are seen, and not everyone will see significant improvement. If the physical therapy is ineffective, he may wish to try a pain clinic or specialist. In this setting, a pain specialist will evaluate the level of pain and cause, and then work with him to determine the best course of action, which may include medication, water exercises, acupuncture or acupressure, chiropractic manipulation or massage.

I don’t recommend traction despite its popularity because there is little proof that it is beneficial or that the results are long-lasting.

If these conservative measures fail to improve function and decrease pain, surgery to correct the deformity may be appropriate; however, this step is not a guarantee of relief of pain or improvement of function. It is a last resort that may well solve his difficulties.


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