Migraine sufferers searching for relief from the intense, pulsating pain may find acupuncture a handy tool in their efforts to manage this debilitating headache disorder.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, migraines affect 10 percent of the world’s population.
Attacks can bring throbbing pain that is typically on one side of the head, visual disturbances, nausea and sensitivity to light, sound, touch and movement.
Untreated, these distressing episodes can last from four to seven days, and finding the right treatment for a patient can take some trial and error.
The mechanism behind migraines has not yet been clearly identified, and no cure is available.
Traditionally, migraines have been treated one of two ways.
Patients generally either take a medication at the onset of an attack or take a preventative medication daily.
Unfortunately, these medications are not always effective, and many come with the potential for serious side effects.
A form of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture offers patients another approach, and it is one that research has shown to be effective.
In a review appearing in the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central that examined the results of more than 20 trials, researchers found that acupuncture provides additional benefits to patients who treat their migraines with medication on an as-needed basis.
They also concluded that acupuncture is at least as effective as preventative medications; they raise the possibility that it may actually be more effective.
As a bonus, acupuncture does not carry the same risks of side effects that migraine medications do.
Acupuncture’s Benefits for Migraines
Why does acupuncture help reduce the number and severity of migraine attacks?
There are several theories.
Acupuncture is known to cause the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
Some medical professionals believe that acupuncture also affects serotonin levels, which are thought to play a role in causing migraines.
In fact, some think that acupuncture actually alters the way the brain processes pain.
In addition, acupuncture is known to decrease inflammation, moderate blood flow and promote relaxation.
For patients who are struggling to manage their migraines, concerned about the side effects of their migraine medications or simply ready to try something new, acupuncture offers an interesting opportunity.
If you suffer from migraines and are interested in trying acupuncture, make an appointment today and determine whether acupuncture is appropriate for your health situation.
[Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski]