Acupuncture for Migraines
Have you heard of acupuncture recently and you are not sure what it is? Many Americans are not familiar with acupuncture treatment and the possible benefits. Acupuncture is a natural treatment therapy where small fine needles are inserted into specific points in the body to trigger a physiological response. The therapeutic practice is thousands of years old and is central to ancient Chinese medicinal practices. What many Americans are not aware of are the numerous therapeutic uses for acupuncture. Today, acupuncture is used to treat chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and a variety physical symptoms and conditions. In fact, acupuncture is becoming increasingly popular for treating migraines. Here is more information about how acupuncture treatment is used to treat migraines.
How Does Acupuncture Treatment Work?
According to traditional Chinese beliefs, acupuncture targets the flow of energy throughout the body. When energy is blocked or not flowing correctly, it is believed to result in disease or physical ailments. In western cultures, acupuncture practice is more focused on targeting nerve stimulation. When needles are placed in specific locations they stimulate the nervous system and send signals to the brain to release hormones. These hormones can help to reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and also stimulate and increase blood flow.
Acupuncture for Migraine Patients
For many individuals who suffer from migraines, conventional medicine may not help to ease their migraine pain. Evidence suggests that acupuncture can help to reduce the frequency of headaches just as well or better than traditional preventive medications. For migraine patients, an acupuncturist will place needles at specific pressure points along the back or neck. Sometimes, acupressure is used in addition to acupuncture and a gentle head massage accompanies the placement of the needles. The mechanisms through which acupuncture decreases migraine pain remain unclear, however it is believed that the treatment activates nerves in the brain responsible for turning pain off.
What to Expect From A Treatment Visit
If you are interested in trying out acupuncture for the first time, you may be curious what to expect from a treatment appointment. Here are the steps that usually occur at a visit to an acupuncturist:
- Just like a visit to a medical doctor, your first acupuncture visit will start with an overall health assessment.
- Next, your acupuncturist will talk you through their treatment approach. This discussion will include how they plan to treat your condition and where they will specifically place their needles.
- Next, your treatment will start. With the placement of the first needles you may feel a sharp or stinging sensation. In most cases, patients say they do not feel any pain, or barely feel the needles.
- After the needles are placed, your practitioner may want to alter the placement or use additional therapy techniques such as heat or electricity.
- The needles are usually left in place from five to 20 minutes.
In general, the average acupuncture treatment takes approximately an hour. After the treatment is complete, your practitioner will finish the appointment with a discussion of follow-up care and their treatment plan for future visits. Patients with migraines are advised to commit to a minimum of 6 sessions.
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Sunae Son, L.Ac, M.S.O.M. has spent much of her life exploring and researching western and eastern medicines, combining these practices over a decade of field and laboratory studies into mindful patient care in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.