Acupuncture Efficacy for Headache/ Migraine

By Dr.Priscilla Kerr

Headache/Migraine

In my last 15 years of experience, during which I have seen over a 1000 cases of migraine and headaches
I know how far that Western medicine can go with medications. Medication works but not in every case.
I had patients that took their migraine medication to prevent headaches every day but they still had the migraine anyway. Their life was RULED by the migraine or headaches. If they were feeling well they could enjoy a day in the beach with their kids, go to work, or ride a bike, but when the crisis came, they were confined in a dark room, in bed and with no noise. They reported having so much pain that they wanted to take their own life.I had a patient that actually tried to take his own life but he was found before it was too late. He suffered from cluster headaches, and according to the World Health Organization, “the condition affects one in 1000 adults”. After acupuncture treatments, his cluster headache episodes reduced by 50%. He has been stable for the past four years and he is able to have a life.

To review: headache is defined as “pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the head (occipital), or in the back of the upper neck.” We can consider them primary headaches, which include migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.

Do you know that as many as 90% of adults experience tension headaches? Out of all the patients complaining of pain who come for acupuncture, headache/migraine are among the top 3 conditions that I treat. I was reading that ” Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. An estimated 28 million people in the US have migraine headaches.”

Because of my medical background, I always want to know new scientific research in the area of acupuncture and headaches.

Here is an article published by dailymail.co.uk :

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-148897/Acupuncture-cure-migraine.html#ixzz44ai1jqVE

It was written by JAMES CHAPMAN and says that Acupuncture is more effective than drugs in relieving the misery of migraine.

The researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial with 160 patients at the Woman’s Headache Center in Turin. ([PubMed -from 2002 Oct;42(9):855-61.Acupuncture in the prophylactic treatment of migraine without aura: a comparison with flunarizine.)

” Dr Gianni Allais & colleagues found that women who received acupuncture had fewer migraines during the first 4 months of treatment. They also needed less medication than those taking the drug flunarizine, used to prevent blinding headaches.”

“In the study, reported in the medical journal Headache, Dr Allais asked 80 women to have acupuncture once a week for two months, then once monthly for an additional four months. Needles were placed in the same points during each treatment, and left in the patient’s body for 20 minutes.

Another group of 80 women had a daily dose of flunarizine for two months, then took it 20 times per month over the next four months.

Both groups of women experienced fewer headaches overall, said researchers. However, patients who used acupuncture had fewer migraines than those taking flunarizine during the first four months of the study – an average-of 2.3 attacks compared with 2.9 in the drug group. And the needles therapy appeared to reduce migraine pain and lower the need for drugs.”

you can read the Abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12390610

You should know some of the side effects of Flunarizine:

  • drowsiness
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness or lightheaded
  • dryness of the mouth
  • flushing and feeling of warmth
  • headache
  • increased appetite or weight gain
  • nausea
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Medbroadcast.com, regarding the Apo-Flunarizine issue also said:

Check with your doctor ASAP if you experience any of these:

  • bleeding, tender, or swollen gums
  • breathing difficulty, coughing, or wheezing
  • chest pain (may appear about 30 minutes after medication is taken)
  • depression
  • face appearing “mask-like”
  • fainting
  • irregular or fast, pounding heartbeat
  • loss of balance control
  • shuffling walk
  • skin rash
  • stiffness of the arms or legs
  • swelling of the ankles, feet, or lower legs
  • trembling and shaking of the hands and fingers
  • trouble speaking or swallowing
  • unusual secretion of breast milk

If you suffer with Headaches/ migraines, would you be interested in having a treatment that has an equal or higher effect than your migraine drug without this LONG list of Side effects?

Finding an acupuncturist with the proper credentials is extremely important for proper treatment.

And perhaps you don’t know that I see a lot of women who wanted to get pregnant and thus needed to stop taking their migraine medications to avoid complications during pregnancy. Do you have any idea how these pregnant ladies survive for 9 months with constant headaches that we know can increase during pregnancy? These women were lucky to found in acupuncture a major relief. And most of them came by referrals.

I’m happy to say that on top of the referrals coming from friends and family members I have other colleagues who are sending me patients on a regular basis:- physicians.

I believe that by practicing at Manitoba Clinic, I have a closer relationship with physicians, since we speak the same language and they trust my work. Many of the doctors at the Clinic send me patients to treat and I’m so grateful for that, however in the past 5 years I have received even more patients than expected from the Neurology departments of different hospitals, even from outside Manitoba.

And they don’t send me the easy cases. It is common to receive cases where the doctors have tried everything, yet with no response to traditional western medical treatments. Patients often arrive hopeless and exhausted from seeking help.

But if Acupuncture can give them a choice of a life with less pain and more quality, that delay may well be worth the wait. I wish that these cases had come to my hands sooner, as it would have been easier to treat them. But, I love a challenge and that is why I keep accepting more patients referred by neurologists and family doctors.

So you may ask, what were the results from acupuncture treatments for headaches/migraines?

Based on what I have seen in my practice, all patients received benefits from acupuncture, some cases better than others. There was a change in the frequency, duration and intensity of the pain. In my personal records, I can see that acupuncture treatments for Headaches/ migraine have shown positive results in over 61% of these cases, and 41% were pain free for one year or more (having one session per month to maintain those results).

If you are sick of having pain, or if you know someone who suffers with headaches and you know they are tired of the side effects of those prescribed medications, you might tell them to try acupuncture. If those treatments are indeed successful then they can go back to their physicians and ask if they can reduce or stop their medication. Remember that each case is different and needs individual attention.

Call us at Prairie Medical Acupuncture Clinic and book an appointment with Dr Kerr at 204-788-5715

sources:

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11396

http://www.medbroadcast.com/Drug/GetDrug/Apo-Flunarizine

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/cluster-headaches-the-worst-possible-pain/281524/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-148897/Acupuncture-cure-migraine.html#ixzz44ai1jqVE