If you suffer from migraines, then chances are you will have researched many ways to treat your symptoms or what might be causing them. But, have you ever considered Acupuncture as a natural preventative?
What does a migraine feel like?
A migraine is usually experienced as a moderate or severe headache that throbs on only one side of your head, however this is not always the case and migraines can often manifest in different ways.
Each migraine sufferer is likely to receive a different set of symptoms to another migraine sufferer, and very commonly there will be other symptoms in conjunction with the headache. Other symptoms include nausea, fatigue, stiff neck, light-headedness and light aversion.
People who have regularly suffered from headaches throughout their lives have often described the sensation they feel in their head using words like “crushing,” “pounding,” and even “exploding”. Put it this way – if you have a migraine – you know about it!
Migraines can last for hours, days or even weeks. Some extremely unfortunate chronic migraine sufferers have been experiencing constant symptoms for months or even years at a time.
What might be causing my migraine?
Migraine is a common health condition, affecting around 1 in every 5 women and around 1 in every 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood and can fluctuate throughout your life.
The exact causes of migraines are still pretty much unknown, although they’re most likely to be the result of temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in your brain. The fact that migraines are most common in women might suggest that hormones have a big part to play too.
Research has shown that genetics can also play a part, with close relatives who share the condition and symptoms.
One way to see if there are any triggers relating to your migraine would be to keep a diary. That way you might be able to highlight anything that could be associated with your symptoms including the onset of your period, feeling stressed or anxious, alcohol consumption, lack of sleep or eating certain types of food.
Could Acupuncture help?
For the majority of migraine sufferers, simple painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen just aren’t enough. Other medication, including triptans may also help some patients by helping to reverse changes in the brain that may cause migraines.
Acupuncture has been used in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and has helped many migraine sufferers to ease their symptoms over time.
There have been many papers published about the relationship between Acupuncture and a reduction in tension headaches and migraines, many with differing findings.
In 2009, The Daily Telegraph published a review of a scientific study by Klaus Linde from the University of Munich and colleagues from universities and medical centres in Italy, the US and UK carried out the research. The work was published as two papers – Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis and Acupuncture for Tension-Type Headache – in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. This thorough systematic review looked at acupuncture used for preventing tension headache or migraine. During the clinical trial, Acupuncture was found to reduce the frequency of headaches compared to taking no preventative measures (such as drugs or relaxation techniques).
Your Acupuncture consultation
During your initial consultation, I would begin by asking you about the location of your headache (front, side, back, behind the eyes, etc) and then the quality of the pain and how it develops and progresses over time. I might also ask if there are any other features associated with it, such as visual disturbances, or whether you suspect it could be linked to a certain part of your menstrual cycle. I will also ask questions about your lifestyle, stress levels and diet.
As to how often Acupuncture treatment might be needed, this very much depends on your individual circumstances. After your initial course of treatments (usually every week for 8 weeks), you may then be able to live comfortably with one session every month. Others, for example those with more stressful lifestyles, may need slightly more frequent treatments.
If you live in Harrogate or the surrounding area and suffer from regular headaches or migraines, please call me on 07787 831 275 to arrange a free consultation where we could chat about how I could help you. Read about me here. British Acupuncture Council member.