Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention – Between and During Attacks

For millions of sufferers of migraine, just thinking of it causes alarm and dread. Although a lot of them have learned to cope and live with migraine pain, still, they’d rather not want to dwell upon the moment when the next episode will occur.

What is involved in acupuncture treatment for migraines?

Acupuncture is derived from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and is a form of complementary or alternative medicine. This treatment is quite effective in neutralizing pain although it involves the placing of thin needles into certain points in the body known as acupuncture points. After the needles have been inserted, the acupuncturist then gently manipulates them to increase stimulation of the surrounding nerves.

Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention – Between Attacks

Individuals suffering migraines who have decide to try acupuncture as a treatment between migraine attacks should seek help from a licensed acupuncturist who distinguishes between prevention and treatment. They can receive SES acupuncture for migraines.

For receiving an SES treatment, the patient needs to be in a sitting position. Ultra thin needles are inserted very superficially into the patient’s skin. The acupuncture points selected for SES are usually on the lower legs and forearms. The needles are then gently manipulated and pushed back and forth, while the patient exhales.

Acupuncture for Treatment of Migraine – During Attacks

A patient going for acupuncture treatment during a migraine attack will get the usual acupuncture treatment procedure wherein thin needles are inserted into acupuncture points all over his/her body. The needles are gently manipulated back and forth and while they are moved, the needles will enable the small blood vessels around them to dilate. This increases the blood flow throughout the patient’s body’s tissues.

Some acupuncturists may take a different approach. Since the pain is thought to be connected to the dilation of blood vessels in your head, they won’t insert needles in the neck or head area since this may only exacerbate the pain. They instead may only insert the needles into acupuncture points in your legs and arms.

Acupuncture for Migraines – UK Studies

Four British newspapers published a study on 15 March 2004, revealing acupuncture’s benefits for individuals with migraines.

All those papers cited a randomized, controlled trial in which the effects of using acupuncture for treating migraine headaches were matched with more frequently used types of treatment. 12 different locations in Wales and England and 401 patients participated in the trial. The trial posted outcomes for 301 of those patients.

For migraine patients given acupuncture treatment, less severe headaches were reported compared to those who received the more common treatments. The patients who’ve had acupuncture also had visited the doctor less often, took fewer drugs and also had fewer days off work than did patients given the standard care.

Acupuncture for Migraines – United States Studies

In the US, two publications posted studies that have verified the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating migraine headache.

The JAMA or Journal of the American Medical Association

JAMA posted a study entitled “Acupuncture for Patients with Migraine,” that tested 302 subjects with migraines a majority of whom were females. The patients were divided into three groups: a wait-list control group, a group receiving sham acupuncture and a group receiving acupuncture for migraines.

At the end of the study, the researchers noted that sham acupuncture was more or less equally as effective as regular acupuncture and both sham and real acupuncture subjects showed much greater positive effects on migraines compared to the wait-list control group.

Blackwell Synergy

150 women participated in this study that determined whether the effectiveness of acupuncture for migraines is indeed real or not. The study compared the effects of acupuncture for migraines to that of Flunarizine therapy for migraines.

Acupuncture was given each week for 60 days to Group A. After the end of the 60 days this group again was given acupuncture once a month for four months.

For Group B, Flunarizine was given each for 60 days and after that period it received the medication twenty days each month for four months.

The results of the study showed overwhelming positive results in favor of acupuncture.

Does Acupuncture for Migraines Hurt?

A lot of migraine sufferers who have a fear of needles do have a hard choice between the pain of needles and their migraine pain. So haw can one get past the fear of needles then?

One advice is to seek a licensed and well-qualified acupuncturist. You can ask for referrals and recommendations from your own doctor or acquaintances, friends or family members who have tried acupuncture.

You can then visit the acupuncturist prior to setting up an appointment. Ask if the acupuncturist uses disposable needles. Also ask if you can observe the needle-sterilizing procedures.

If the fear of needles still linger, ask the acupuncturist if there is another therapy that does not use needles. There are acupuncturists who use herbal remedies, ear cups and magnetic needles in lieu of acupuncture needles.

After you have found your acupuncturist, make an appointment.

When coming in for the appointment, you need to relate exactly the problem you are experiencing including its intensity and frequency. Give as much information as possible about your condition as this can give the acupuncturist a really clear picture of your condition and thus provide you with the best treatment possible for your problem.

It is a very good idea to allow your doctor or primary health care provider to know that you are getting acupuncture for migraines besides the treatment he/she may be presently giving you.

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