Updated 6 October 2019
I was first diagnosed with migraine when I was 5, which probably wasn’t too surprising to my relatives since most of the women in my family have this same neurological disorder, though it was only called a “sick headache” when I was young. At age 9, I was diagnosed as having (non-convulsive) seizures when I had a migraine. More than “just a headache,” migraine is a complex neurological disorder affecting the entire body, with the unilateral head pain being only one of the symptoms of a migraine attack. Affecting 10-15% of the adult population, migraine is, in fact, the most common neurological disorder, ahead of stroke, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy. Migraine causes a phenomenon known as Cortical Spreading Depression (CSD) wherein the cortical neurons begin to shut down in a wave across the brain (see This Is Your Brain on Migraine). The CSD causes the trigeminal nerve to become inflamed, resulting in one of the most debilitating and excruciating types of pain known to humans. I have at least three types of migraine:
- without aura (sometimes called common)
- with aura (also called classic or complicated)
- hemiplegic (sometimes called complex), which can be familial (hereditary) or sporadic (non-familial)
Medical Massage Therapy for Migraine
I’ve been seeing medical massage therapists, on my physician’s advice, for almost 35 years, and many of them used acupressure and craniosacral therapy to reduce some of my migraine attacks (detailed in Head-Banger’s Ball). Medical massage therapy also enabled me, over the years, to identify physical injuries, some from severe childhood abuse, which were triggers for my migraine without aura. My current medical massage therapist used an Infratonic 8000 to treat my frequently dislocated right hip: that childhood injury does trigger migraine attacks for me.
The Infratonic sends infrasonic sound waves, which are beyond the usual range of humans’ hearing, through tissue and bone in order to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Because the Infratonic’s sound waves reduce inflammation, any pain caused by the inflammation is also reduced. There is no invasive treatment, no experimental drugs, no surgeries, no physicians, no insurance companies. Just sound waves. The Infratonic 8000 reduced the pain in my dislocated hip and lower back so much, I decided to learn how to use a sound-healing device myself.
On my head.
Sound Healing for Migraine
Sound healing is not new. Chanting, Tibetan Singing Bowls, humming, lullabies — they’re all forms of sound that have been used throughout history for healing, for meditation, for soothing. I’ve had a Tibetan Singing Bowl for years. I meditate with it and use it to reduce anxiety during a panic attack. Unfortunately, the Singing Bowl doesn’t reduce the pain or the duration of a migraine. Because my medical massage therapist had actually used an Infratonic sound wave device, which allows you to direct its sound waves at the source of the pain (or at the site of the injury, as the case may be), on some of my childhood injuries to reduce recurrent pain, I decided to use that specific device on my migraine.
My therapist was afraid that if she used the Infratonic on my head, the sound waves might trigger a hemiplegic migraine-induced seizure. Instead, she let me borrow her Infratonic 8000 (an older version) to use at home, cautioning me to make sure I was lying down in bed before using it during a migraine so that, if the sound waves did trigger a seizure, I would already be in a safe environment.
When I first put the Infratonic 8000 on my head, directly over the migraine pain, the pain increased. But then, almost immediately, the pain changed in a way that’s difficult to describe. Before I’d even removed the Infratonic 8000 from my head to change its settings, the pain began to reduce in intensity. Using the Infratonic 8000 never triggered a migraine-seizure, and because the Infratonic 8000 made such a noticeable difference in the reduction of my pain, I started researching how I could acquire an Infratonic for my very own. I was delighted to learn that you do not have to have a medical massage license to purchase a Sound Vitality’s Infratonic 9 (I-9), the newest version of the device, and you do not need your physician’s recommendation or a prescription to buy one.
Last week when I had a hemiplegic migraine, which I consider the most severely painful of any migraine, I put the I-9 right on the pain. First, it increased for several seconds, but then it was immediately reduced. Whenever I took the I-9 off my head, the pain worsened, so I used the device all day long. I still had to take pain medications, but I was able to take less. I then slept with the I-9 under my pillow overnight, and when I woke the next morning, the hemiplegic migraine, which usually takes 3-7 days to run its course, was completely gone.
Yesterday, before I had a chance to finish writing this article and publish it, my car broke down (and it needs substantial money to be fixed), which virtually always gives me a stress-induced migraine (one without aura). I used the I-9 on the pain all day and slept with it under my pillow last night. The I-9 significantly reduced the pain during the day, and by this morning, that stress-induced migraine was gone (even though my car is not yet fixed). I only took (6) aspirin and some supplements for the pain over the entire 24-hour period, which is a noticeable improvement over my usual migraine-without-aura attacks. Since the Infratonic worked for me on a hemiplegic migraine, which is a rare form of migraine with aura, as well as on a migraine without aura, I wanted to document how I treated myself so that others could reduce their own pain.
(For complete operating instructions on the Infratonic 9, see my Review.)
My Experience with the Infratonic 9
During a Hemiplegic Migraine
For a hemiplegic migraine, which I consider the most severely painful of any type of migraine, I put the Infratonic-9 right on the top of my head where the pain was worst: along the top branch of the trigeminal nerve, whose inflammation causes the debilitating pain of a migraine.
When I put the I-9 on my migraine pain on the lowest setting, Balance, I couldn’t feel anything. I turned it up to Acute. The pain of my migraine immediately increased. But before I could even take the I-9 off the top of my head to change the setting to something else, the quality of the pain changed.
It’s difficult to explain, but within a few moments, the pain changed and was slightly less intense. I was still in great pain, but something had happened. Something that most definitely seemed like an improvement. I kept the I-9 there until my arm got tired from holding the Infratonic on the top of my head. Then I lay down, on my side, with the I-9 against the right side of the top of my head, directly on the pain.
And half an hour later, I was waking up.
If you have migraine, you understand my surprise. It is virtually impossible to sleep with the pain of migraine, and, further, migraine itself seems to cause insomnia, both before and during an acute attack. I fell asleep with the I-9 on my migraine pain.
I only slept for half an hour, true, but that was a huge blessing.
After I woke up, I put the I-9 on my migraine, right back on the pain.
And about 10 minutes later, I fell asleep again.
When I called the company, they said that since sleep was part of the healing process, there was nothing wrong with my falling asleep with the I-9. In fact, they told me to put the I-9 under my pillow, turned on, with the fan-like grate facing upward toward my head, and go to sleep. (Note: Though you can use the I-9 while it is charging as well as while you are sleeping by putting it under your pillow, don’t put it under your pillow while it’s charging: that makes the unit heat up.)
I did. Whenever I woke in the night, to get more pain meds or to go to the bathroom, I checked to make sure the I-9 was still on. It was. I went back to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, the hemiplegic migraine was gone. It usually takes 3-7 days to run its course, but after 24 hours with the I-9, that migraine was completely gone.
If the I-9 can reduce and even eliminate my migraine pain, then it’s much more valuable to me than all the pain medications in the world. If it worked for me, I can think of no reason it wouldn’t also work for you.
Many medical massage therapists have Infratonic sound devices, including the I-9, and for the price of the therapy visit, you can experience the Infratonic device yourself. If the therapists have earlier models, like the Infratonic 8000, etc, they look different, aren’t portable, and are quite a bit larger, but they work on the same principles.
Where I Put the I-9 to Treat My Migraine
I’ve included very simplified drawings of the areas where I put the I-9 to treat my migraine. I’m an author, not an artist, but I’ve indicated the rough location of the areas I treated for migraine pain. If you want more detailed images of any of the nerves or muscles, you can find them in Wikipedia articles, on medical anatomy sites, or in acupressure images. Though I looked at detailed drawings to get an idea of where the branches of the trigeminal nerve were, I used my own pain and my own pre-existing knowledge of head/neck muscles as the greatest guide to Infratonic placement during my migraine.
I started with the I-9 on the first setting, Balance, but that didn’t seem to change the pain, either for better or worse, so I proceeded to the middle setting: Acute, where I did most of my treatment. At the end of the day, I did at least 20 minutes on the Deep Calm, which did increase the pain somewhat, but only for a few minutes. I used the Deep Calm setting because it made me fall asleep.
(You can print out the following treatment section by going to How to Knock Out a Migraine with Infratonic 9 Sound Waves, but please don’t distribute them without proper attribution and copyright information.)
Crown of the Head (area A)
Imagine a line going from the top of one ear over your head to the top of the other ear, and imagine that line being intersected by a line coming from between your eyes, up your forehead to the top of your head. Where those two lines intersect is the crown of your head. That’s where I put the I-9. If that particular spot on the crown didn’t feel sensitive, I moved it very slightly around that crown area. Each time I found a spot that was more sensitive on the top of my head, I kept the I-9 there until that spot on my head lost its sensitivity.
Base of the Skull (area B)
Since the debilitating pain of a migraine comes from the inflammation of the trigeminal nerve’s upper branch, I wanted to put the I-9 on an area of my head as close to the base of the trigeminal nerve as well. It enters the brain from the spinal cord at the base of the skull and then divides into two branches, with one branch going to each side of the head. I put the I-9 on the base of the skull, in the center, for about an hour (I placed the I-9 on my pillow, fan-like vents facing up, and then lay down directly on it). Then I put the I-9 slightly to the left of center, and then slightly to the right of the center of the base of the skull, to get both branches of the trigeminal nerve, for 30-50 minutes each side. On both sides of the base of the skull, the muscles were extremely tight. Using the I-9 on each side for 30-50 minutes did not increase or decrease the pain of the migraine, but it made my neck less stiff and that made my neck and right shoulder hurt less.
Even though I have migraine pain only on the right side of my head, I treated both sides of my head when I was treating the trigeminal nerve. 90% of the treatment time was on the right side, where I have the pain, and the remaining 10% was on the left side.
Trigeminal Nerve Root
On each side of your head, slightly in front your ear near the top of your upper jaw-hinge, is the trigeminal nerve root, where each branch of the trigeminal nerve divides again, this time into three distinct branches. I put the I-9 on the trigeminal nerve root area on both sides of my head, not just on the side where the migraine pain was. Putting the I-9 on the trigeminal nerve root on either side of my head caused the migraine pain on the right side to increase somewhat before it slowly decreased. Using the I-9 on the right trigeminal nerve root hurt a bit more than using it on the left, but using the I-9 on both sides of the trigeminal nerve root on caused the pain in my right temple, forehead, and top of head to increase. I treated both the trigeminal nerve root areas for at least an hour, until the migraine pain began to decrease.
Trigeminal Nerve Opthamalic Division
Trigeminal Nerve Opthamalic Division
The trigeminal nerve branches from the root into three areas on each side of the head and face. The upper branch is called the Opthamalic Division, and it spreads out across the temples, down to the eye and nose, over the eyebrows, up across the forehead, and over the top of the head. It is this branch of the nerve that is responsible for my most severe migraine pain, so I treated this division of the nerve along its entire route. Wherever I felt pain, I put the I-9, and I left it in each painful area until the pain began to decrease. Though the pain never completely disappeared, I moved on to more painful areas each time the pain lessened. I repeated treatment of this section of the trigeminal nerve whenever the pain returned (sometimes, after I was treating a different part of my head or body for the migraine pain, the pain in this section of the nerve would suddenly increase).
Trigeminal Nerve Maxillary Division
Trigeminal Nerve Maxillary Division
The middle branch of the trigeminal nerve after it leaves the trigeminal root goes across your cheek, up to your eye, down to each of your upper teeth on that particular side, and to your top lip. While I don’t necessarily feel pain along that division of the trigeminal nerve during a migraine, I do feel intense pressure in that area, so I ran the I-9 over that entire area for at least an hour on the right side, and at least 30 minutes on the left side. (Note: though I do feel eye pain during a migraine, I didn’t feel safe putting the I-9 over my eyeball itself; instead, I put the I-9 on the bony area above and below my right eye for 10-20 minutes.)
Trigeminal Nerve Mandibular Division
Trigeminal Nerve Mandibular Division
The lower branch of the trigeminal nerve after it leaves the root goes down to your jaw and to each of the lower teeth in that side of your mouth. I’ve never had migraine pain in my lower jaw or teeth, and I don’t feel any pressure there. Still, the trigeminal nerve has three major branches from the main trunk of the nerve, so I didn’t think it would hurt to put the I-9 on the mandibular branch area, where I ran it for about 10 minutes on each side. It didn’t change my migraine pain, but it made my jaw muscles feel more relaxed.
I was in a car accident in my early 20s and suffered a concussion and severe whiplash during which the sternocleidomastoid muscles (both sides) were damaged. Sometimes inflammation of that muscle can cause headaches, although I’m not aware that it triggers any of my migraine attacks.
You have to turn your head toward the opposite shoulder to make the sternal division of the muscle more pronounced: the clavicular division is partially behind the sternal division as it goes up your neck and attaches to your skull behind the ear. I did 10 minutes on each section of the right muscle, sternal and clavicular divisions, slowly moving the I-9 up and down the entire length from the collarbone to my skull behind the ear, and then I repeated this for 20 minutes on the muscles on the opposite side, even though I have never had a migraine on the left side of my head. It was very relaxing to use the I-9 on this muscle though it did not change the intensity of the migraine pain.
I did both sides of the trapezius muscle, from the base of the head and top of the spine, down the neck, over to the shoulder. Though research indicates that neck pain is not a cause of migraine but, instead, a symptom of a migraine attack, these muscles always feel very tight during a migraine and make the lower back of my head hurt. Using the I-9 on the upper trapezius for 20 minutes on each side made that muscle feel noticeably more relaxed, which, in turn, reduced the pain and pressure near the base of my skull.
I felt no change in muscle tension or migraine pain when I treated the lower trapezius muscles, but I treated the lower muscles whenever I treated the upper muscles because they’re all connected. To treat the lower trapezius muscles, I put the I-9 on the bed, fan-like vents facing up, and lay down directly on the I-9. Whenever the pain in the base of my head returned during the migraine, or when those neck muscles felt tight, I re-treated that entire trapezius area with the I-9, making sure to cover both sides of my body even though the migraine pain is only on one side.
Posterior Cervical Muscles
Posterior Cervical Muscles
Research indicates that the painful neck muscles during a migraine are a symptom of the migraine attack rather than a trigger. In any event, my entire neck gets painfully stiff and uncomfortable during a migraine, so I put the I-9 under my head, at the base of my skull, so that the I-9 rested flat against the spine and those muscles, for about 20 minutes. I put the I-9 on the bed, fan-like vents facing up, and lay down directly on it. Then I moved to I-9 slightly to the left and right sides of the spine in the same general area to get all those posterior neck muscles. I ran it for 20 minutes in each area before moving it a bit lower and repeating the entire process: center over the spine, left side of spine, right side of spine, 20 minutes each. I continued that until I’d gone all the way down to the center of my back between the shoulder blades, where I felt no pain and, more important, no muscle tension.
I was careful to do both sides even though the right felt slightly tighter than the left. Though treating these muscles did not change the pain in my head, neither increasing nor decreasing it, the muscles were more relaxed afterward, and the mild pain in the base of my skull disappeared.
Additional Treatment Areas
*The only warning in the Infratonic 9 literature is to NOT put the I-9 anywhere near implanted pacemakers.*
At the suggestion of my medical massage therapist, I put the I-9 over my heart area (the center of my chest, actually) for at least 10 minutes. Putting it over the heart area for 10-15 minutes did not change the pain, but it made me feel calmer.
Under My Pillow At Night
When I first used the I-9 and it made me sleepy, I turned it off and put it away. After I talked to the Director at Sound Vitality, she encouraged me to use the I-9 during sleep, all night long, leaving it under my pillow with the fan-like openings facing up toward my head. Sleeping with the I-9 made a dramatic and appreciable difference in the pain. By the next morning, the hemiplegic migraine had broken completely. (And I didn’t have to worry about the I-9 falling off the pillow and getting damaged.)
*Caution: Don’t use the I-9 under your pillow while it’s plugged in (charging). I did that early in the morning, about half an hour before I had to get up, and the device was noticeably and unconfortably warm when I removed it from under the pillow to unplug it.*
One Entire Day of Treatment
Does that sound like I did nothing but treat my head with the I-9 the entire day and night of that hemiplegic migraine? That’s exactly what I did. I was in bed all day anyway — as I always am when I have a migraine because the pain is too severe for me to do anything else (accompanied by severe nausea that turns into vomiting if I’m sitting or standing too long). With the I-9, however, the pain was much more bearable.
I never thought I would say this, but with the I-9, the hemiplegic migraine was almost like… like a really horrid headache.
And that was a great improvement.
I tried to read during the migraine but found it difficult to concentrate, even while using the I-9 for my head pain. However, I was able to watch some movies whose content was not too complicated: the three movies were just engaging enough to help distract me from any residual pain while I treated my migraine’s most severe pain with the I-9. Whenever I got sleepy, I took a nap. I took 3 naps of about an hour each that day: each time I napped, I had the I-9 under my pillow, turned onto the Acute setting, with the controls down against the mattress so that the sound waves were pointed up toward my head.
Yes, it was one day of non-stop treatment with the I-9 for this hemiplegic migraine, but I usually spend at least 3 full days and nights in excruciating pain, unable to sleep at all, and sometimes I spend 5-7 days with the same hemiplegic migraine. This was an amazing improvement.
Pain Medications During this Hemiplegic Migraine
My doctor retired in April of this year, and I haven’t yet found a replacement. I’m basically hoarding the last of the Tylenol-3 prescription he gave me so that I won’t run out of pain medication before I find a new doctor. For this hemiplegic migraine, I took a total of 4 pain pills over 24 hours (one every 5 hours, as opposed to my usual 2 pills every four hours). I also took 2 aspirin (325 mg) each time I took a pain pill, for a total of 8 aspirin in that 24-hour period. I also took some herbal supplements that I’ve noticed help reduce the pain ever so slightly, including a 350 mg valerian every 5 hours when I took the pain pills. (I’ll write another post on the supplements I take to help reduce the pain.) Clearly, the I-9 was reducing the pain significantly, allowing me to take less pain medication.
After the Hemiplegic Migraine
Before I had a chance to finish writing this article and publish it, my car broke down (and it needs substantial money to be fixed), which virtually always gives me a stress-induced migraine without aura. I used the I-9 on the migraine pain all day yesterday and slept with it under my pillow last night. The I-9 significantly reduced the pain during the day, and by this morning, that stress-induced migraine was gone. I only took (6) aspirin and some supplements for the pain over the entire 24-hour period, which is a noticeable improvement over my migraine-without-aura attacks before I began using the I-9.
I’m still using the I-9 daily because I originally started using it on a migraine without aura that was combined with the horrific pain of trigeminal neuropathy (more on that in another article). I’d actually been using the (borrowed) Infratonic 8000 and the Infratonic 9 (portable) for 2 months before this hemiplegic migraine. That means all the weeks I’d already been using the sound waves on my pain may have contributed to shortening the duration of my latest hemiplegic migraine. I can’t know the answer to that: I only know that I plan on continuing to use the Infratonic 9 every day, whether or not I have a migraine, to reduce the pain, frequency, and duration of any future migraine attacks. (When I figure out a good maintenance routine for the I-9 and migraine, I’ll put up some articles on it.)
Questions about the Infratonic 9 for Migraine
If you have any questions about my using the Infratonic 9 for my migraine, please do ask in the Comments (or on Twitter).
Note: I can also answer a few questions about using the I-9 for atypical trigeminal trigeminal neuralgia: constant, unbearable, unremitting pain along the middle branch of the trigeminal nerve and excruciating, shock-like bolts of pain caused by coughing, sneezing, bending forward, lyaing down on your pillow, etc.), which is, basically, a migraine in a different part of your face. The atypical trigeminal neuralgia was caused by an abscess in one of my teeth, and worsened by two uncomplicated dental extractions in 2017.
Since I’ve also been treating the excruciating pain of atypical trigeminal neuropathy with the I-9, I’d be happy to answer questions about it before I get my article finished: but, yes, the I-9 does reduce the pain of atypical trigeminal neuropathy — both the constant, unremmitting pain and the fierce, electric-shock bolts of pain — and after 6 weeks of treatment, I am beginning to have some pain-free periods.
The Chi Institute (formerly, Sound Vitality) Sources of Infratonic Information
If you have other questions about the I-9 itself, the customer service department at The Chi Institute is happy to answer you via Chat or their toll-free number. They have a former website at Chi Institute, which has several articles on the 30-year history of the Infratonic, on how infrasonic sound waves work healing injured horses, on how the Infratonic reduces pain and cellular trauma, and how the Infratonic device accelerates recovery. The Hospital Protocol pages lists some of the types of injuries and tissue damage for which the Infratonic may be used. Sound Vitality also has testimonials on its site about the type of conditions the Infratonic machines have been used to treat.
Their older website has some diagrams about using the Infratonic (all versions), but I actually found it more effective when I just put the Infratonic (whether the older 8000 model or the latest model 9) on the pain itself, as well as on any areas that might be contributing to the pain. The Infratonic Therapy User’s Guide for the i9 is 110 pages of testimonials from customers who have used it on themselves or their animals, for injuries, surgeries, etc. You can read the entire guide online.
The Chi Institute has a video on the I-9 settings and timer, a brief video tip on using the I-9 for sleep, a very brief video mentioning the I-9 for headache and migraine, and a 48-minute webinar on treating various injuries and illnesses with the I-9, but there are no detailed instructions on how to specifically use the I-9 to treat specific injuries beyond “put it where it hurts” and “chase the pain.”
I had to figure out where to use the Infratonic for my migraine pain myself. That’s why I’ve written this article: I would have loved to have found it when I was researching ways to reduce migraine pain.
Purchasing an Infratonic 9
I first had experience with Infratonic 8000 in my medical massage therapist’s office, who told me that she first used one on herself at the office of another medical massage therapist before she purchased an Infratonic for her office.
I realize that this is a rather expensive unit, and if I hadn’t used it in my medical massage therapist’s office for a recurring injury and its pain, I would have hesitated to buy my own, especially since no one seemed to know if the Infratonic 9 would help reduce my migraine pain. Their money-back guarantee convinced me to purchase my own, and I was saving money to buy it when I learned that The Chi Institute allows you to make a purchase via PayPal Installment.
You do not need a physician’s prescription or a medical massage license to purchase an Infratonic 9. I am not aware of any insurance companies’ covering the cost of the device, although you can purchase an I-9 with the funds in a Health Savings Account (HSA) if you have one.
The Infratonic 9 has a 30-day Unconditional Return Guarantee and 1-Year Warranty on Parts & Labor from The Chi Institute itself. Mine behaved strangely the first few days: it kept sounding the alarm and shutting itself off randomly. Sound Vitality paid my return shipping, replaced the circuit board and battery, and shipped the repaired I-9 to me, all free of charge. Since it was returned to me, I’ve been using it over a month, virtually continuously, and it’s worked almost perfectly. When its battery died much earlier than expected, Sound Vitality sent me a new one at no charge.
For my complete review of The Chi Institute’s Infratonic 9 Sound Wave Device for Pain Relief, including What’s In the Box, How to Operate the Infratonic 9, and customer service evaluation, go to my article here (updated 25 June 2019).
The Chi Institute
(formerly, Sound Vitality)
Infratonic 9 *
My Infratonic 9 was purchased directly from The Chi Institute (formerly, Sound Vitality). I have not received any sort of compensation for this review, nor have I received any compensation for any of my other articles about my experience treating migraine and atypical trigeminal neuralgia with the Infratonic 9. I did all the research on sound healing, ultrasound, infrasound, and Chi-sound machines myself, both before and after my Infratonic 9 was purchased. When I had some questions about the frequencies of the sound waves, I contacted Sound Vitality, and their Director told me the specific ranges of the sound waves, as well as why the Chaos mechanism was added to disrupt those sound waves for healing purposes. I learned everything else from my own research and my own experience with the Infratonic 8000 and the Infratonic 9, and that includes all the suggested placements for pain relief and treatment in the Related Posts (below).
The Infratonic 9 by The Chi Institute can be purchased directly from their site. After you have the item in your cart, you can choose Pay with PayPal if you wish to pay in installments. You will then be taken to PayPal’s site, where PayPal handles all the financial information and installment arrangements. Otherwise, you pay with a credit or debit card.
The Infratonic 9 it is also sold by The Chi Institute through Amazon, which lists the same device three different times (all at the same price): for sports injuries recovery, abdominal pain relief, and menstrual cramps relief. They are all the same device, though the photos make the device look slightly different, If you buy the Infratonic 9 from Amazon, The Chi Institute will be sending your device. This is the I-9 that I use for the pain of migraine and atypical trigeminal neuralgia.
Related Posts on Migraine & Chronic Pain
For more of my articles on migraine or chronic pain,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.
Related Posts on Migraine,
Chronic Pain, and Insomnia Relief
* These images contain affiliate links: if you click through and purchase an I-9,
I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.*