Migraine Relief with Acupuncture at Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation

Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by a wide variety of symptoms, including (but not limited to) severe, recurring headaches that generally affect one side of the head. These headaches are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances. Countless days of missed work, school, and enjoyment are caused by the pain and extreme neurological disruption of a migraine attack.

Even worse, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that women who have migraines accompanied by visual symptoms have a greater risk of stroke compared to women who do not have migraines.

Typically, a migraine headache lasts anywhere from four to 72 hours, and consists of four stages.

Stages of Migraine

• Prodrome: Prodromal symptoms occur in 40-60% of migraineurs (migraine sufferers); this phase consists of altered mood, irritability, depression (or euphoria), sleepiness, food cravings, stiff muscles, and diarrhea (or constipation).

• Aura: Twenty to 30% of migraineurs suffer from migraine with aura, a focal neurological phenomenon that can precede or accompany an attack. Visual aura is the most common neurological symptom; this involves a visual disturbance consisting of flashes of white, black, or multicolored lights. Some patients experience blurred or cloudy vision. Other symptoms include auditory or olfactory hallucinations, temporary dysphasia, vertigo, tingling or numbness of the face and extremities, and sensitivity to touch.

• Pain: Pain can be moderate to severe and usually occurs unilaterally (on one side of the head; hence the etymology of the term “migraine,” which derives from the Greek “hemicrania,” or “half” and “skull”). Other common symptoms during this phase are sensitivity to light, sound, noise, motion, and smells, as well as nausea and vomiting.

• Postdrome: After the pain has subsided, some patients feel tired, depressed, and have additional head pain and gastrointestinal symptoms. Others may experience euphoria and increased energy.

Traditional Medical Treatment for Migraine

Throughout history, an assortment of dangerous (and rather imaginative) treatments for migraine have been practiced. These have included such ineffective therapies as trepanation (the deliberate drilling of holes in the skull), bloodletting, and the application of hot irons to the head.

Today, migraine is typically treated with medication. While the modern medical community has a number of theories as to the origin of migraine (the most common hypothesis is a disorder of the serotonergic control system), the cause is still unknown. This is clearly indicated in the treatment of the disorder, which consists of a scattered assortment of drugs, the majority of which were not expressly designed to treat migraine in the first place.

Traditionally, neurologists prescribe two types of medications for migraine: preventive and pain relieving. It is safe to assume that many medical preventive options are ineffective, as pain relieving drugs are still a necessity for many migraineurs.

Preventive medications include cardiovascular drugs (beta blockers most commonly used for high blood pressure), antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, antihistamines, and—in some extreme cases—botulinum toxin type A (Botox).

Pain medications for migraine include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), triptans, anti-nausea drugs, butalbital combinations (a sedative combined with aspirin, acetaminophen, or caffeine), and opiates. Of these, at least three options (NSAIDs, opiates, and butalbital) may cause rebound headaches, a phenomenon in which the drug that brings relief may actually cause another headache. NSAIDs, if taken for too long and in high enough doses, may cause ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding, and are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Opiates are known for having addictive properties.

Acupuncture in the Treatment of Migraine Headaches at our Monmouth County Rehabilitation Facility

The safe and effective practice of acupuncture has been used in China for thousands of years to treat many debilitating conditions, including the symptoms of migraine. Acupuncture has continued to exist and is now flourishing in the western world as a safe, painless, and drug free method of relieving the pain and other neurological symptoms associated with this disorder.

Traditional Chinese medicine does not recognize migraine as one particular syndrome, but instead aims to treat the specific symptoms particular to each individual. Chinese medicine asserts that all pain is blocked life energy, or Qi. This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians, which connect all of the major organs. Illness of any kind arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points (located near or on the surface of the skin) that have the ability to alter the conditions of the body.

Best of all, acupuncture is a drug free option for relief from migraine symptoms. The practice can alleviate the pain and other neurological phenomena associated with migraine without the possibility of rebound headaches, addiction, gastrointestinal disorders, or death.

Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation provides skilled New Jersey Certified Acupuncturists. These licensed practitioners are trained in the Chinese tradition. To learn more about how to find immediate relief from your migraine symptoms without the use of medication, contact our facility.