Acupuncture, though successfully used as a medical treatment for thousands of years in China and other parts of Asia, was until relatively recently, dismissed as magical thinking by much of the Western world. Now, however, acupuncture treatments are routinely recommended to restore the balance and flow of Qi (chee), the energy that flows through the human body, to reduce pain and promote healing. Among its many purposes, acupuncture has proven helpful in providing relief from migraines.
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our doctors are physiatrists, specializing in forms of nonsurgical pain relief and restoration of function. As such, we have touted the benefits of acupuncture for many years. We find it a valuable tool for diminishing pain and inflammation and accelerating healing so we use it frequently, often in combination with other traditional and complementary methods like physical therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
Why Acupuncture May Be a Godsend to Patients With Migraines
Migraines are not just severe headaches; they are the result of a complex neurological condition characterized by intense, pulsating pain, and often accompanied by additional symptoms such as visual auras, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines, which can last from a few hours to several days, can significantly disrupt a patient’s life.
While there are an increasing number of remedies for migraines available in recent years, some of them may have disturbing side effects. That’s why acupuncture, which does not have any adverse effects except a rare tiny bruise, is a welcome addition to the arsenal of migraine treatments.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into specific points on the body known as acupuncture points. These points have been carefully charted by practitioners over centuries and are believed to be significant locations on the pathways through which Qi circulates. By stimulating these points, acupuncture removes blockages that stand in the way of a healthy flow of healing energy.
Researchers believe that acupuncture may work by:
- Modulating pain perception
- Increasing the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
- Regulating neurotransmitters in the brain
These mechanisms not only contribute to the alleviation of migraine-related pain and symptoms but are productive in reducing inflammation and relieving the anxiety that often accompanies and worsens pain.
How is Acupuncture Administered?
Before our doctors administer acupuncture for migraine relief, they take a thorough medical history, including past injuries, illnesses, and any pre-existing conditions so that they can customize the treatment to meet each patient’s individual needs. During a typical session, the ultra-thin sterile needles are gently inserted and left in place for about 20 minutes. The process is painless and most people feel so relaxed during treatment that they sometimes drift to sleep.
The frequency and duration of sessions vary depending on the severity and frequency of the patient’s migraine attacks. Our experienced doctors will recommend an appropriate treatment schedule to achieve the best results.
Scientific Studies Support Acupuncture’s Efficacy as Migraine Treatment
Because of the suspicion with which the West viewed acupuncture for such a long time, the treatment was tested and retested dozens of times. Over the years, numerous reputable studies have found that:
- Acupuncture significantly reduces the frequency and severity of migraines.
- Patients report fewer migraine episodes and less intense pain following acupuncture sessions.
- Patients who have received acupuncture report improved quality of life not only due to reduced symptoms, but also related to lessened reliance on medication, and an increased sense of well-being.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), after one such study, concluded that “acupuncture is an effective and safe method for migraine [treatment].”
What Distinguishes Our Long Island Acupuncture Treatments
Our doctors have all been trained in acupuncture at Harvard Medical School. Having learned several types of acupuncture procedures, we are well-prepared to administer all of them and have had extensive experience with a broad spectrum of diverse patients.
Because we are MDs, our knowledge of the various systems of the body is comprehensive and detailed. We are more likely than practitioners who are trained only in acupuncture to be able to diagnose other medical conditions that may be simultaneously affecting a patient’s health.
Our Skilled Acupuncture Specialists Can Help Relieve Your Migraines
We understand how overwhelming and debilitating migraine headaches can be and are glad to be able to offer an alternative avenue of therapeutic relief to our patients. Contact us now to discuss how acupuncture may relieve your recurrent migraines and improve your life.