Researchers don’t fully understand why some people experience migraine headaches and others don’t, but if you have them, you know they can disrupt your life. There’s nothing like having to retreat to a dark, quiet room, hoping the pain will pass when you’d rather be enjoying your life.
At Acupuncture Health Services, Michael Beys, LAc, DACm, and his staff know that a migraine headache can make the simplest daily activities feel like torture. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware that acupuncture can be used effectively to relieve migraine pain.
Misconceptions about acupuncture abound. It’s a form of medical treatment in which very fine needles are placed at strategic points to relieve pain, among other things. Acupuncture has been used as a part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. Over time, it has become a standard part of treating pain in Eastern medicine.
Western medicine leans more toward pharmaceutical approaches to treating pain. Acupuncture may provide pain relief without drugs. If you want non-pharmaceutical pain relief, acupuncture could be right for you.
One of the common misconceptions about acupuncture is that it is painful. Many patients describe it as “euphoric” or “relaxing.” The needles are so fine that you may not even feel them at all.
TCM teaches that pain, illness, and disease are the result of energy blockages. The energy, called qi, moves along pathways called meridians throughout your body. Inserting the needles releases the blocked energy, allowing qi to move freely.
Highly trained, licensed acupuncturists know the key points where energy blockages happen based on the symptoms you’re experiencing. The modern understanding of acupuncture is that pressure points throughout your body are associated with particular nerves. When needles are inserted, the nerves stimulate the release of certain hormones. Those hormones trigger responses from your immune and circulatory systems.
There’s also some evidence that acupuncture can reduce inflammatory proteins, which may help reduce pain. Taken together, the overall effects of acupuncture work throughout your body, and the result can be less migraine pain.
Modern researchers are working to understand how acupuncture works to ease the pain. A study published in 2014 examined acupuncture in Western medicine over the course of several decades. Another study, this one a meta-analysis that reviewed data from 23 trials and 18,000 patients, found that acupuncture is an effective method of pain relief.
Additional studies have reached similar conclusions, and still, others are underway as more research is needed to fully understand how acupuncture works. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized acupuncture for 40 years as a treatment for pain and even offers benchmarks for the practice of acupuncture.
Acupuncture is safe, with few potential side effects, and is a great alternative to pharmacological approaches to treating pain. If you have migraine headaches and you’re seeking a drug-free way to ease the pain, schedule your appointment at Acupuncture Health Services today.