Acupuncture Treatment for Migraines – Does it Work?

Migraine headaches can be a chronic condition that can hinder a person’s day-to-day life.  There can be a plethora of causes for migraines including lack of sleep, depression/anxiety, and poor nutrition. They can lead to nausea, sensitivity to light and throbbing in specific areas on the head. Many resort to taking pain medication to deal with migraine aches, but it can be dangerous to become dependent on pain medication for a long period of time. Acupuncture is known to treat different ailments and help pain management for different issues with the human body, including migraines. 

To understand whether acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines, there is a recent history of clinical trials that use “sham” acupuncture points (as a placebo control group) and real acupuncture points. The “sham” points do not breach the epidermis, but give the impression to the patient that it does.  There have been many different studies to solve the question: Is there a difference in the effects of real versus sham acupuncture; some smaller studies show that there is a difference, and some not. According to Harvard Health Publishing, 

     “In order to address this concern, a 2012 meta-analysis combined data from roughly 18,000  individual patients in 23 high-quality randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for common pain conditions. This analysis conclusively demonstrated that acupuncture is superior to sham for low back pain, headache, and osteoarthritis, and improvements seen were similar to that of other widely used non-opiate pain relievers.”

This groundbreaking clinical trial also had sufficient evidence to show that acupuncture not only helped with aches and pains, but also improved patients’ blood pressure levels and brain function. 

Acupuncture has presented itself as an effective alternative to pain medication when it comes to treating migraines.  However, the purpose of acupuncture is not only to treat pain but do so by managing other aspects of your body that might be deficient in some way.  This can be the cause of the migraines initially and a method of treating the whole system. 

Instead of targeting the only problem you notice by taking a pain medication for temporary relief, acupuncture targets points of the body that can have an overall beneficial effect on your health, by treating the reason why the pain exists to begin with. 

References

Langevin, H. (2018, January 25). Acupuncture for headache. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/acupuncture-for-headache-2018012513146

Molsberger, A. (2012). The role of acupuncture in the treatment of migraine. CMAJ, 184(4), 391-392.