Nearly 40 million adults in the United States suffer from migraines, the most severe type of headache. For most migraine sufferers, episodes recur frequently, and nearly five million people experience at least one episode each month.
Adults are increasingly using acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment, to relieve issues like migraines. It’s now covered by some insurance companies for certain types of pain. Our experts explain how acupuncture can provide migraine sufferers with much needed relief.
Migraines are different
Migraines are distinctly different from your run-of-the-mill headaches. They’re often severe enough that sufferers seek care at an emergency room. Migraines often affect one side of the head and throb so severely that they can interfere with work and cause significant disability.
People who experience migraines often report triggers like alcohol, anxiety, or emotional changes. However, some people seem to get hit with migraines out of the blue.
When people hear the term migraine, they tend to think of a severe headache. What they may not know is that migraines are a neurological condition that have several subtypes. The two most common are with aura and without aura. Here’s what you should know.
Migraine with aura
This type of migraine involves sensory changes that begin shortly before or during a migraine attack. These include:
- Tingling or numbness
- Seeing flashes of light
- Trouble speaking
- Metallic taste in mouth
- Seeing black dots
Migraine without aura
People suffering from this type of migraine may experience symptoms of other subtypes. However, patients who have migraine without aura commonly report:
- Pain made worse after physical exertion
The key difference with this type of migraine is the lack of warning phases common with other subtypes.
How acupuncture relieves pain
The practice of acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles into the skin at strategic points. This stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals and stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself. TCM practitioners work from the theory that acupuncture points correspond with certain organs and body areas, and that the energy flowing through these areas can become blocked or imbalanced.
Modern CT scans have shown that these points correspond to very dense micro-clusters of blood vessels. Stimulating these energy points are believed to be responsible for acupuncture’s benefit in relieving painful conditions like migraines.
Acupuncture relieves migraines
Science is catching up in gaining an understanding of the benefits of acupuncture. Where migraines are concerned, clinical data shows that acupuncture not only helps relieve migraines, it also reduces episodes.
One such review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews evaluated studies published from 2008-2016 and found that acupuncture treatments relieved migraine frequency by at least 50%. What’s more, this benefit isn’t temporary. A follow-up study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 found the benefits last for the long term.
How many sessions will you need?
Dr. Neil Spiegel combines traditional and complementary approaches to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions. As a licensed medical acupuncturist, he provides safe, effective treatment.
After gathering a detailed medical history and performing a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Spiegel develops an individualized treatment plan to address your migraine pain. You can expect to have at least six sessions, usually once a week. Clients experience enhanced benefit by undergoing at least 12 sessions over three months.
If you need migraine relief, visit the Osteopathic Center for Healing in Rockville, Maryland. Our friendly staff is waiting to hear from you today. Call our office to schedule an appointment or book online today.