There are few headaches more debilitating than a migraine, and finding effective treatments can be challenging. Over-the-counter pain relievers often provide minimal help, and narcotics can cause side effects, such as drowsiness and nausea. Many people find relief by turning to a professional acupuncturist. For many sufferers, acupuncture can provide quick relief, and treatments can even lead to the reduction of future headaches.
Medical Acupuncture vs. Chinese Acupuncture
Acupuncture involves the use of special needles to stimulate nerve receptors at various points on the body. Practitioners of acupuncture report that there are specific nerve receptors that correspond to pain in the head. Some doctors and chiropractors specialize in a form of acupuncture that is very similar to the techniques practiced by specialists in Chinese medicine, although doctors approach the technique with one major difference.
With medical acupuncture, needles are gently inserted into the tissue at nerve receptor points and then stimulated with low-frequency electricity. Specialists in this arena report that the electrical stimulation is rarely uncomfortable. The frequency of electrical current is so minimal that at the most, a typical patient usually feels nothing more than mild tingling. A single treatment is effective at eliminating pain in about 20% of the patients who seek it, although patients sometimes need follow-up treatments.
Chinese acupuncture involves insertion of needles along the same nerve receptors used by medical acupuncturists, but the needles are gently manipulated by the practitioner’s hand rather than through electrical stimulation.
Effective, Long-lasting Relief
In 2004, researchers reported the results of a migraine study that involved the use of acupuncture. According to professionals involved in the study, participants who received acupuncture instead of just pharmaceutical interventions experienced a significant decrease in the number of repeat migraines. They required fewer medications for pain relief, and they were able to maintain their daily schedules with fewer problems than participants who only used medications to treat their symptoms.
Over-the-counter and narcotic medications do little to prevent future migraine attacks, but acupuncture often has a prophylactic effect. Researchers publishing the 2003 results of a migraine study suggest that the effects of acupuncture are often long-lasting. Once tissue at a nerve receptor point has been stimulated, it often blocks or reduces future inflammation.
Migraine sufferers generally welcome relief from any source. They know too well that breaking the cycle of pain is hard to achieve, but the potential for relief makes acupuncture worth trying.