If you suffer from migraines, you will know how miserable they can be. Migraines are a debilitating condition. They can come without warning and last for several days at a time. The pain is unbearable. It feels like there is a vice around your head and any movement provokes intense nausea. Strong painkillers can help, but often they only take the edge off the pain. So if migraines are making you miserable, can acupuncture help?
Common Triggers for Migraines
There are many things that can trigger a painful attack of migraine. Diet, hormone levels and physical stimuli can all cause a migraine headache to develop. Stress and excitement is a common trigger, as is tiredness and a lack of sleep. Many women also suffer from migraines because of fluctuating levels of estrogen. Dietary triggers include chocolate and caffeine.
What are the Main Symptoms of Migraine Headaches?
The painful headache is the main symptom of a migraine, but some people experience visual disturbances prior to a headache developing. Flashing lights and strange shapes on the periphery of your vision appear and can last up to an hour. It is also common to feel extremely tired in the aftermath of a migraine.
Is there a Cure for Migraines?
There is no cure for migraines, so treatments concentrate on relieving symptoms. Over the counter painkillers can help ease the pain, but they need to be taken very early on or they won’t work. Triptan medications can also be effective for some people. These cause the blood vessels in the brain to narrow, which reverses the dilation process that occurs during a migraine attack. Anti inflammatory medicine is another line of treatment.
How Effective Is Acupuncture for Migraine?
Because medications don’t always work, it can be helpful to try other treatments. Acupuncture has been found to work for some people. Studies have shown that regular acupuncture treatments can help reduce the number of migraine attacks as well as the severity of each attack. You probably won’t notice any immediate effect from acupuncture, but two treatments per week for at least three months will help you decide whether acupuncture is effective for you.
Isn’t It All In The Mind?
Studies carried out using traditional Chinese Acupuncture and a placebo group found that patients in both groups reported a positive effect from regular acupuncture sessions. This would suggest that to a certain extent, acupuncture is ‘in the mind’. But those who have tried it and found that it works would disagree. It could be that patients who have tried acupuncture before and had positive results are influenced by their experiences. It is also possible that a positive recommendation from a doctor is also enough to persuade a patient that the treatment will work.
Research suggests that acupuncture is most effective when used in conjunction with other migraine treatments such as painkillers and triptans. It is probably a good idea to try self-help treatments such as diet modifications in the first instance, but if these don’t work, consider trying acupuncture and painkillers in tandem.
The author of this article Annie Russell, works as an intern at CT Acupuncture Center, leading acupuncture specialists in Norwalk, CT. Annie is passionate about fashion and likes to stay up-to-date with the latest trends.