Acupuncture and Migraines


If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you likely understand that they can be debilitating, especially for chronic migraine sufferers. When traditional Western medicine hasn’t helped with migraine pain, migraine patients are often eager for other solutions. While some patients are skeptical on the effectiveness of acupuncture, there are countless research studies and first-hand accounts of how acupuncture can help alleviate migraine intensity and frequency. 

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional form of Chinese medicine that originated thousands of years ago.  It is based on the concept of “qi” – the flow of energy or life force. There are 361 points on the body, each with a different purpose or action on disease or pathology that is disrupting the body.  The acupoints lie under the skin, in the tendino muscular region, on different meridian channels to release Qi, stagnation or to stimulate neurohormonal pathways. This process aims to rebalance the body’s natural energy and flow so symptoms of various illnesses can be relieved. 

The research 

A systematic review of 22 trials involving 4,985 people ultimately shows that there is evidence that acupuncture can reduce the frequency of headaches – it may even be similar to medications. The headache frequency in many patients who had acupuncture dropped by 50% or more and these results were shown to last up to 6 months with significantly less side effects than preventative medication. 

What to expect

Treatment takes about an hour, and patients are advised to undergo at least six sessions, usually once a week, to asses how the their bodies are responding to the treatments.  During a session an acupuncturist will place needles at specific pressure points, usually along a person’s back or neck. Sometimes, a gentle head massage accompanies the placement of the needles. The acupuncturist may also suggest dietary changes, such as cutting things like caffeine which some acupuncturists believe disrupts qi. 

Results vary by patient, but for many, acupuncture has proven to be a useful tool to knock down migraine pain levels and get back to your normal life. In time, many patients may find acupuncture to be an essential part of their migraine management and their overall wellness. If you suffer from migraines or debilitating headaches reach out to us at Sarrica Physical Therapy & Wellness to see how we can help.