Acupuncture for Migraines

How regular acupuncture treatments greatly reduced my migraine pain

migraine pain

I have suffered from migraine pain since I was 12 or 13. I remember coming home from school, burying my head in pillows so no light could touch my eyes and pray I didn’t get sick. My mom called them “sick headaches.” They were actually the start of my migraine journey. My description when asked by a neurologist was that I felt like someone was trying to dig their way out of my head with a dull screwdriver. Sound familiar?

Over the years you start to feel like a guinea pig. Everyone is different and everyone reacts differently to meds. For several years, I was prescribed a lot of different medications to try and treat/prevent migraine pain. None worked or only worked a short time. Increase dosages, start a new med…nothing but side affects on top of migraine pain. So now what?

A friend of mine, who is the Associate Chief Nurse at the local VA hospital, mentioned an acupuncturist that was under contract there and was helping a lot of veterans with their migraines. So, I did some research and decided to make an appointment with the acupuncturist at her local office. I can honestly say I was skeptical at first. However, with regular treatment, my migraine pain has been reduced and I can now go months without migraine pain.

How can little needles stop migraine pain?

The first thing to know is that all acupuncturists are not the same. There are different techniques and different sizes of needles. You want an acupuncturist that focuses on your specific pain. Where is the primary pain, how long does it last, etc. If acupuncture is too aggressive and/or the needles used are too large, my migraines get worse.

For my particular needs, I found an acupuncturist about 35 miles from my home in Bedford, PA. Elisa Miller, owner of Bedford Acupuncture, LLC, has been treating me for a little over a year now. She uses hair-fine sterile needles to stimulate specific points on the body helping to improve blood flow and calm pain signals. Depending on the number of migraines I have had since my last treatment and how I feel in general, Elisa plans that day’s treatment accordingly. Some treatments are lighter while others are more aggressive. None are uncomfortable. She places the needles at different acupuncture points and then I relax in the room for 30-45 minutes.

As I write this and think about my migraines since my last acupuncture treatment two weeks ago, I can honestly say this works! No migraine pain in two weeks is a wonderful feeling. What’s even more amazing to me is that this is Spring allergy season when I would usually have several migraines due to high pollen counts. Last weekend I cut the grass for the first time this year with no migraine pain afterward. In the past, I’d have to close all the doors and windows while someone else cut the grass because it brought on migraine pain. Not anymore!

I still have times when my migraines will flair up. This past winter, for example, was one of those times. In times of a flair, I usually move my appointment up and get treatments closer together to relieve the flair. Elisa has always been great at answering my questions and creating a plan to help stop the cycle of migraine pain. She has also used ear seeds, which are very tiny needles used to stimulate pressure points in your ear. These ear seeds can stay in place for an extended period of time, for me they stay for 2-3 weeks.

So, how do you know you’re getting the right treatment?

  1. Make sure your acupuncturist is licensed. Since acupuncture itself contains very little risk, you want to use a practitioner that has the knowledge and education to help you treat your migraines effectively.
  2. Make sure your practitioner has a clean treatment area and only uses new needles. Healthline.com reports that “according to the National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health, acupuncture that is performed with substandard or dirty equipment can pose a very serious health risk. Acupuncture needles are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are supposed to be single-use only.”
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what is going on. A good acupuncturist will walk you through the procedure and make sure it’s a calm and safe experience for you.

After years of trying many different medications for migraine prevention, I am beyond thrilled that the safe, natural practice of acupuncture is my answer to greatly reduce the frequency and severity of migraine pain.

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