Does Acupuncture Work for Migraine?

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This year I tried acupuncture.  I have heard about acupuncture for migraine for years but was hesitant.  I get on average 75-90 shots a year to treat my Chronic Migraine.  The thought of trying another doctor putting needles in me didn’t sound appealing.

I was recommended to an acupuncturist by a family member who was a physician shadowing an acupuncturist who was described to me as brilliant.  The office was about an hour away while the appointments lasted about 20-30 minutes.  As always, I had a driver because the results could cause feelings of “drinking a 6 pack of beer” and I didn’t need to be driving an hour after my treatment.  I was also hesitant because my insurance didn’t cover acupuncture and it was going to be more out of pocket costs.

With all this, I tried it anyways.  The doctor I saw gave me an immediate calming feeling.  After years of doctor’s visits, I tend to start a new treatment with a bit of trepidation.  Retelling my history gets tedious and after 30 years I feel like I’ve heard it all.  But this doctor was special.  He believed me!  He didn’t give me a list of things to try that I had already attempted, he didn’t judge, he just believed me.

The coolest assessment he did on me was to have me hold my middle finger and thumb together while he pulled them apart.  He did this with ease.  After asking questions and putting a few metal discs with band aids on he tried the assessment again.  This time my fingers held tight.  He looked at my mom and said, “See, she’s really hurting.  This would not have happened if she wasn’t able to tell me where she hurts.”  This was not saying that my mom did not believe me (she knows I hurt) but to say that my pain was real.  Having a doctor ask me and not tell me what to do to be helped was profound.

Each time I walked out of his office I felt optimistic.  I felt lighter and less pained.  This was something new for me being I’m used to walking out of offices with a script and pumped full of much needed meds but mentally down.  I was pricked with very few needles that were essentially painless.

While I was there we talked not only pain but triggers, emotions and concerns.  Once again he was letting me talk and treating me from there.  It wasn’t a protocol that the medical professionals deemed for everyone, it was specific to me.  I’ve always fought to be treated as an individual and not just one of 57 million Migraine sufferers.  It was refreshing, I felt heard.

Did it help my migraines?  Each time was different as I find with all treatments.  The optimism was the same.  One treatment I felt no “6 pack” feeling, while another my head was swimming on the way home.  One time I felt it lasted a week (which for someone who gets migraines daily at some point) was a relief.  Another time I got hammered with a 3 day severe migraine the next day which made me want to give up on my acupuncture treatments.

These results seem to be on par with all of my treatments.  Nothing works every time in the same way every time.  After several months my doctor retired.  This was the end of my acupuncture treatments.

Why did I not follow up with another acupuncturist closer by?  While loving my doctor and the incredibly interesting ways he treated me, I’m shelving acupuncture for now.  I feel that I got lucky with this amazing doctor and know that every doctor is not created equal.  I fear disappointment in finding another doctor and losing the little bit of magic that acupuncture and this brilliant doctor provided me.  It’s expensive and not a long term fix for me.

If asked if I would recommend acupuncture, my answer would be the same as always…..follow your own path.  You can read about the benefits of migraine treatments from many different resources.  My goal is to give you my experiences and hope that you will learn from my stories and listen to where your heart takes you.  After saying no to acupuncture for so long I finally said yes and it was the right decision for me.  I’m glad I tried it and would try it again in the future.  I don’t think it would be around for thousands of years to treat hundreds of things if people hadn’t had success.

 

Have you tried acupuncture for Migraine?  What did you think?

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8 thoughts on “Does Acupuncture Work for Migraine?

  1. Pingback: Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You! | Pain Pals

  2. I did try acupuncture years ago for migraine with some success, but I might suggest it to my son who has been plagued over the last couple of years. Thanks for sharing on the CIB thread– I have shared a link to your great post on PainPals regular feature Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You, Claire

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  3. I, too, tried acupuncture several years ago for chronic migraine. The doctor came highly recommended by a nurse practitioner at my clinic, and I was ready for anything — I even hoped for placebo effect, if it would just cut back the incidence of migraines! Unfortunately, the treatments were actually quite uncomfortable, and the doctor himself insisted that I was “cured” every time he treated me. I tried hard to relax and get the best out of the treatment, but became more disillusioned as time passed. Eventually, the doctor’s scheduler let me know that he was taking an extended trip to his home country, and I allowed my recurring appointments to lapse. Truly disappointing, since I had high hopes for the treatment.

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  4. I’m trying it now for EDS, Tension Headaches, Migraines, Arthritis, and lots more. I have had fewer headaches and felt an increase in energy (after the 4th visit). I’m going to keep trying it to see what it can do. I’m glad you had such a kind doctor!

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