Does Acupuncture Help Migraines?


If you’ve never had a migraine, then consider yourself lucky. Migraines are like headaches on steroids and are often accompanied by extreme fatigue, nausea, vertigo, lightheadedness, and photosensitivity. Unlike headaches, migraines happen in episodes that can begin days before the pain itself sets in, and last long after. If you struggle with migraines on a regular basis and are desperate to find relief for your symptoms, you may be wondering, does acupuncture help migraines?

Acupuncture has been shown to be highly effective in treating migraines. Regular acupuncture sessions can reduce the number of migraines sufferers experience per year, and lessen the severity of each episode. 

What’s the difference between a migraine and a headache?

Migraines are headaches, but headaches aren’t necessarily migraines. As any migraine sufferer can tell you, migraines happen in episodes and are accompanied by a variety of debilitating symptoms. 

In addition to excruciating head pain, patients may experience lethargy, loss of coordination, brain fog, inability to concentrate, neck pain, jaw pain, and back stiffness, as well as sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. Many migraine sufferers also experience auras, which are visual disturbances like blind spots, seeing colors and lines, and flashes of light. 

It’s not unusual for migraine patients to experience these discomforting symptoms before the migraine headache begins. A migraine episode can last for days, even weeks in severe cases, and the pain can make it difficult for patients to get out of bed, let alone engage in day-to-day activities. 

Migraines are considered a neurological condition and are associated with low levels of serotonin in the brain, as well as low circulating levels of tryptophan, an amino acid necessary for the production of serotonin. Because migraines are neurological in nature, they can be difficult to manage with pain medications.

How does acupuncture help treat migraines?

Since pain meds aren’t particularly effective at treating migraines, patients must seek out a variety of alternative treatment methods to cope with their symptoms, one of which is acupuncture. But just how does acupuncture help migraine sufferers?

For starters, acupuncture is incredibly effective at relieving tension. Although tension may not be the sole cause of your migraines, treating underlying tension can help you cope with your migraine symptoms, especially neck, back, and jaw pain. Because acupuncture promotes a sense of relaxation, this further alleviates migraine symptoms. 

Another way that acupuncture helps treat migraines is by regulating neurovascular function. Acupuncture stimulates blood flow to the brain, and has a modulating effect on the nervous system, calming overactivity while simultaneously stimulating proper nerve function. 

Acupuncture has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, which, as we know, is a major player in migraine treatment and prevention. In addition to serotonin, acupuncture also stimulates the release of endorphins. These feel-good neurotransmitters raise your body’s pain threshold naturally, making it easier to handle migraine discomfort without having to rely on medications. 

When should you get acupuncture for migraines? 

If you suffer from migraines, there really is no wrong time to get acupuncture. Whether you’re currently in the throes of a migraine episode, or just trying to stave off the next one, acupuncture can help you cope with this debilitating condition. 

Acupuncture can provide you with fast relief if you’re dealing with a migraine at the moment. But acupuncture can also be used at the onset of a migraine to mitigate the pain before it really sets in. Acupuncture further helps patients by treating the triggers that can contribute to a migraine episode, such as stress.

It can be difficult to say exactly how many acupuncture sessions you will need to help you overcome your migraine symptoms. But your acupuncturist will help you determine how often you’ll need treatment to see a significant improvement in your condition. While a single acupuncture session can help you overcome an acute migraine, more sessions will be necessary to help you manage the disorder over time. 

Is acupuncture alone enough to treat migraines?

Acupuncture is a highly effective alternative treatment strategy that has many benefits to offer. But depending on the underlying cause of your migraine episodes, acupuncture alone may not be enough to treat your condition. When it comes to holistic medicine, the more irons you have in the fire, the better. So you may find that employing a variety of treatment strategies is most effective for you.

After speaking to you about your health history, your acupuncturist may recommend other alternative therapies to support you on your wellness journey. Cupping can be beneficial for migraine sufferers, particularly those whose migraines are directly tied to stress. Soft tissue mobilization can also be helpful for reducing stress-related tension, and electrostimulation can be used to correct underlying dysfunction of the nervous system. 

In addition to these holistic therapies, dietary and lifestyle changes may also be advised to help you overcome your migraines and manage your symptoms in the long haul. 

Can acupuncture really prevent migraines?

Acupuncture can be used to treat migraines. But can it also be used to prevent them, or even eliminate migraines completely? The answer is yes! 

In some instances, regular acupuncture sessions are enough to enable patients to overcome their migraine episodes for good. Of course, this all depends on the root cause of the migraine episodes themselves. 

Migraine is a complex condition that can be caused by a variety of factors. So acupuncture is not a one-size-fits-all solution. But, in some cases, acupuncture can help patients eliminate their migraines completely by addressing their triggers while also promoting proper neurovascular function and healthy neurotransmitter balance. 

And, even if acupuncture isn’t enough to totally prevent your migraine episodes, it can still help you reduce the number of episodes you experience per year, and significantly reduce the severity of those episodes. 

Booking your first appointment

At Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture, we’re no strangers to treating migraine patients. We understand that every case is different, and from your first visit, we’ll be here to help you get to the bottom of your condition so you can finally take the steps necessary to manage it. 
Contact our office today to get started. Our friendly staff will answer any questions you may have. When you book an appointment at one of our clinics, we make your goals our goals. We give our patients the tools they need to take control of their health, and we’re ready to help you, too.

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