Acupuncture For Migraines-Effective or Not?

Migraine. Just the thought of it causes dread for millions of sufferers. Many have learned to expect and live with migraine pain, but they would rather not think of the next episode.Acupuncture for Migraines – What Is Involved?Acupuncture is a type of alternative or complementary medicine, derived from traditional Chinese medicine. This treatment for pain involves insertion of fine needles into particular points in the body known as “acupuncture points”. The needles are then gently manipulated.Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention – Between AttacksIf you decide to try acupuncture for migraines between your migraine attacks, and have an acupuncturist who distinguishes between prevention and treatment, you may receive SES acupuncture for migraines.You will receive your SES treatment in a sitting position. Fine acupuncture needles will be inserted very shallowly into your skin. The acupuncture points chosen for SES will usually be on your forearms and lower legs. The needles will then be gently manipulated, pushed back and forth, by hand while you exhale.Acupuncture for Migraine Treatment – During AttacksIf you decide to try acupuncture for migraines during a migraine attack, and receive a typical treatment, fine needles will be inserted into acupuncture points all over your body. The needles will then be gently pushed back and forth. As it is moved, each needle will cause small blood vessels around itself to dilate. This will increase the blood flow throughout your body’s tissues.Your acupuncturist may take a different approach, however. Since your migraine pain is generally believed to be linked to blood vessel dilation in your head, he or she may not want to insert needles in the head and neck area. To do so might make your pain worse temporarily. Instead, your acupuncturist may use only the acupuncture points on your arms and legs.Great Britain Research on Acupuncture for Migraines* On 15 March 2004, four British newspapers reported on a study that found acupuncture helpful to people with migraines.* The four papers based their stories on a randomized, controlled trial. That trial studied the effects of using acupuncture for migraines along with more common types of care. The trial was conducted in twelve (12) different areas of England and Wales. It involved 401 patients in all. It reported results for 301 of those patients.* Patients treated with acupuncture for migraines had less severe headaches than those who received more common treatments. The patients treated with acupuncture for migraines also had fewer days off work, took less medication, and visited the doctor less often than did patients given only standard care.United States Research on Acupuncture for MigrainesTwo publications in the United States have published studies that have lead to strong, positive conclusions on the effectiveness of acupuncture for migraine relief.1. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)Under the title, “Acupuncture for Patients with Migraine,” JAMA published a study involving 302 patients. Most of the patients were female. Patients were grouped into those who received acupuncture for migraines, those who received sham acupuncture for migraines, and a wait-list control.The researchers concluded that sham acupuncture was no less effective than regular acupuncture. Both acupuncture for migraines and sham acupuncture, however, had much greater positive effect on migraines than did the wait-list control.2. Blackwell SynergyIn this study, 160 women were studied to determine if acupuncture for migraines was effective or not. This study pitted acupuncture for migraines against the use of Flunarizine for migraines.* Group A received acupuncture for their migraines every week for two months. After that, they received acupuncture once monthly for four months.* Group B was given Flunarizine every day for two months. After that, they received the medication twenty days out of the month for four months.
The study’s conclusion was profound. Acupuncture for migraines won as the more effective treatment of the two.Acupuncture for Migraines – Does It Hurt?You may be among those migraine sufferers who see acupuncture for migraines as a choice between the pain of the headache and the pain of needles. You may be among those who have an intense fear of needles. How can you get past the fear?1. FIRST: Seek out a well-qualified, professional acupuncturist. Get recommendations, if possible. Be sure the acupuncturist is licensed and certified according to the law in your area.2. SECOND: Visit the acupuncturist before making an appointment. Ask to see needle-sterilizing procedures. Ask if they use disposable needles.3. THIRD: If you still fear the needles, ask if there is an alternative. Some offer magnetic needles, ear cups, and/or herbal methods.4. FOURTH: Make an appointment.When you go for your appointment, be sure you explain exactly the problem you are having, its frequency, and intensity. Provide as much medical information as possible. This will help the acupuncturist provide the acupuncture for migraines treatment that is best for you.NOTE: It is wise to keep your primary health care provider aware that you are using acupuncture for migraines in addition to or in place of any treatment he or she may advise.