Stress sometimes causes brain blood vessel enlargement and the release of chemicals that result in inflammation followed by the pain of migraine headaches. This often combines with flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the arms and legs, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Tension headache often accompanies a migraine.
Conventional treatment of migraines
While a tension headache often responds to over-the-counter medications, migraine headaches typically require prescription medications. These include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Anti-nausea medications
- Pain relievers
Preventive medications sometimes are prescribed:
- Cardiovascular drugs
- Anti-seizure drugs
- BOTOX® injections have been shown to be effective for up to four months in preventing the symptoms of migraine.
Problems with conventional treatments
For many migraine sufferers, immediate side effects of some of these drugs results in the medication being stopped.
Triptans, the most commonly prescribed class of anti-migraine drug, produces sleeplessness, fatigue, and racing heartbeat, among other side effects.
Anti-epileptics sometimes are prescribed for their off-label effects. Used long-term, they can cause sexual problems such as impotence.
A more effective approach
The British Medical Journal of March 15, 2013 reported on researchers’ conclusions that
“compared with standard medical care, acupuncture offers substantial benefits in preventing headaches and improving the quality of life for people who suffer from frequent headaches, especially migraines.”
Klause Linde, Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Department of Internal Medicine II, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany, reported in a 2002-2003 study that headache days were reduced 51% in the acupuncture patients.
The National Institutes of Health concurred that acupuncture outperformed standard care for people suffering from a variety of pains, including migraines. Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, concluded that people undergoing acupuncture for their pain are getting more than just a psychological boost. The results are real, or as he put it, “It’s not some sort of strange healing ritual.”
In Germany, acupuncture, which most private health insurances cover, frequently is used to treat headache. Several clinical studies in that country, and our experience in our own practice, clearly shows that acupuncture often reduces the intensity and length of migraine episodes, and can enhance the effectiveness of conventional migraine medical care.
But When One Treatment Doesn’t Work, Another May
By Salynn Boyles WebMD Health News Jan. 16, 2003
Acupuncture Eases Migraine Headache Pain
By Jennifer Warner WebMD Health News March 15, 2004
Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15870415 JAMA. 2005 May ;293(17):2118-25.
Acupuncture for patients with migraine: a randomized controlled trial.
Linde K, Streng A, Jürgens S, Hoppe A, Brinkhaus B, et al
Migraines, Tension Headaches Respond To Acupuncture
Main Category: Headache / Migraine
Article Date: 21 Jan 2009 – 2:00 PDT
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