Headaches / Migraines

stress-441461_1920.png

 

From the Washington Post,  an account of treating migraines well with acupuncture,

“A month into my treatment, after eight sessions, I noticed that my migraines had begun to slow down in frequency and weaken in intensity. At the end of two months, I felt strong enough to scale my appointments down to once a week. Five months after I started acupuncture, I felt essentially cured. I rarely got the drowsy fog of fatigue — and if I did, it almost always went away on its own. I could work on my computer and spend time on the beach, and I was able to drink wine again. It has now been five years since I discovered acupuncture. I still occasionally get migraines, and if they seem to be amping up, I’ll use acupuncture, even a couple of times a week. But there have been months when I don’t need it at all.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/migraines-were-destroying-my-life-heres-what-finally-cured-me/2016/05/02/7007b840-f6b1-11e5-9804-537defcc3cf6_story.html?postshare=461462290441410&tid=ss_tw

I’d like to add a couple notes:

  1. Please notice that the patient really tried acupuncture. She didn’t just come once or twice but having noticed that she was trending well after a round of eight treatments, she continued on for further benefits.
  2. It’s not often that I’ll quote WebMD for acupuncture because quite frankly, I don’t always see them mention acupuncture as a viable treatment option for conditions that I’ve seen treated first-hand with acupuncture. But times may be a’changing and headaches are commonly treated by acupuncture so here you go, titled “Acupuncture May Be Effective for Migraines” at http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/news/20120112/acupuncture-may-be-effective-for-migraines — Here’s a quote from the article, “Three months after treatment, people who received traditional Chinese acupuncture continued to report a reduction in migraine days, frequency, and intensity.” There was also this gem, “Another study of nearly 800 people showed that 11 acupuncture treatments over six weeks were at least as effective as the blood pressure drugs called beta-blockers — often used for migraine prevention — taken daily for six months, Molsberger tells WebMD.”
  3. An essay exploring acupuncture for migraines (particularly in pregnant women) from a 4th year medical student in London: “acupuncture for migraine relief has been recommended by NICE…Since acupuncture has the potential to relieve migraine pain without the added fear of teratogenicity…necessary to carry out further research on the effects of acupuncture on those who are pregnant.” http://www.cmir.org.uk/kcl-ssc-student-submissions
  4. Here’s a nice link about tension-type headaches from Cochrane last month: http://www.cochrane.org/CD007587/SYMPT_acupuncture-tension-type-headache — First line, “The available evidence suggests that a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension-type headache.” This was a review of 12 trials with 2,349 adults!

I hope more people suffering from headaches will consider acupuncture!

 

** Image on this page released under Creative Commons CCO. See https://pixabay.com for more info or to download images you like. Yay!

 

Advertisements

Gentle Acupuncture & Needle Fear

I think I’m pretty good at working with people who have some fear about acupuncture because of the needles. For one, I let patients know that in No Event am I going to do something they don’t want me to do and that I will only perform acupuncture after asking them if it’s okay. I also remind them that I will only be working in a specific location that we’ve talked about and that they have the power to say “not there”.

So essentially, I:

  • remind them that they’re in control
  • that nothing happens without their consent
  • that they can consent and then change their mind

In the treatment room, I can use needles that are more gentle, intended for children or babies, and employ techniques that are mild in nature.

I let them know that some patients, on the other end of this spectrum, prefer “stronger techniques” and that as practitioners, we don’t always know which techniques a patient will prefer or respond best to. Communication is key.

I assure them that I’ll be conservative in my approach and will give a lighter treatment, even at the risk of non-effectiveness, instead of a stronger treatment, and that we can always build up to stronger-feeling treatments if they like and as they’re ready.

Some patients prefer to see the needles first while others prefer not to, so together we decide best approaches to facilitate comfort and ease. I can also describe how thin needles are, more similar to the width of a hair than what they may have experienced at doctor’s offices. I also ask if they have any concerns or questions around safety and that I’m trained to be safe.

Also, some prefer to chat or listen through the act of insertion and others prefer silence so they can breathe in/out without disruption. We discuss their preferences and then I take steps to honor them. At any time, we can slow down or stop altogether.

So this:

  • creates the expectation of mellow, starting simple/light
  • reminds them that different people respond and prefer different techniques
  • reminds them they’re in control and we’re in this together

If they elect for just one insertion, I let them know this is a great start and that some entire treatments are just that: they shouldn’t feel like it’s not a full treatment. If they like, I will hang out with them for a few minutes making sure they’re comfortable with the feeling acupuncture produces, which is typically quite calming but is also something one feels.

We discuss whether they want me to check in on them and I give them a bell to ring me if they need me to come for immediate assistance. If they say they want to be checked in 5 minutes, I tell them that “I will return in 5minutes, not 6 or more minutes. I’m going to set a timer” and then I do.

Together, we make agreements that are followed, which helps establish trust. Anxiety and/ or panic can rise and blossom so I try to be very diligent in approach so that they trust that I’ll be there if they need me.

Acupuncture is typically relaxing, calming, sometimes even sedating, and some describe a sort of floaty sleep-like session, an “acu-nap”. Acupuncture can be very good for people who have anxiety, insomnia, depression, etc. Once they feel it, they typically come back for more. Acupuncture can be great for sensitive people.

 

 

What about the research (RCT, randomized controlled trial) on Chinese medicine?

Search to see if there’s published research in a subject area that interests you.

On 3/1/2016, I searched several acupuncture topics (for fun) on MedPub (a database of the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health). I could have easily chosen other search examples such as “acupuncture + digestion” or “acupuncture + nausea and vomiting” but here are some examples of how many research trials were found:

“acupuncture” yielded 24,194 results

“acupuncture pain” yielded 6,493 results

“acupuncture low back pain” yielded 607 results

“acupuncture cancer” 1,263 results

“acupuncture chronic pain” 1,392 results

“acupuncture pregnancy” 849 results

“acupuncture migraine” 403 results

“acupuncture anxiety” 548 results

“acupuncture depression” 793 results

And one example:

JAMA, journal of the AMA, a meta analysis (comparing research studies) of 17,922 patients, regarding back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain, found that “acupuncture was superior to both sham and no-acupuncture control for each pain condition – – Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option”

[ Oct 2012:   http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1357513 ]

Definition “Research”: Webster’s 2nd Edition, c.1934 (1910)

websters cover 1934 red.jpgresearch def websters 1934 1910  red.jpg

 

From http://www.merriam-webster.com March, 2016:

Full Definition of research

  1. 1:  careful or diligent search

  2. 2:  studious inquiry or examination; especially :  investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws

  3. 3:  the collecting of information about a particular subject

What conditions does acupuncture treat?

“Since at least 200 BC, the application and effects of acupuncture and herbs have been documented. It is only recently, however, that systematic exploration of Chinese Medicine using the scientific method has become more recognized and accepted in the West.

Chinese and Western scientists have proven that acupuncture does indeed increase levels of endogenous morphine-like substances. Clinical studies of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of illnesses have led to acupuncture’s acceptance beyond pain control.

The following is the World Health Organization’s now famous list of diseases that lend themselves to treatment by acupuncture. The inclusion of herbal remedies in a scope of practice may broaden the range of disorders that may be successfully treated.” 

http://www.pacificcollege.edu/resources/about-medicine/treatable-disorders ]

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Acute and chronic colitis

Acute and chronic gastritis

Acute bacillary dysentery

Acute duodenal ulcer (without complication)

Chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief)

Constipation

Gastric hyperacidity

Gastroptosis

Diarrhea

Hiccough

Irritable bowel and colitis

Paralytic ileus

Spasms of esophagus and cardia

Gynecological Disorders

Benign amenorrhea

Benign irregular menstruation

Dysmenorrhea

Infertility (Not WHO recognized. Clinical experience proves effective.)

Menopause syndrome

PMS

Cardiovascular Disorders

Essential hypertension

Neurological Disorders

Cervicobrachial syndrome

Disc problems

Facial palsy (early stage, within three to six months)

Headache and migraine

Intercostal neuralgia

Meniere’s Disease

Neurogenic bladder dysfunction

Nocturnal enuresis

Paresis following stroke

Peripheral neuropathies

Trigeminal neuralgia

Musculo-skeletal Disorders

Arthritis

Fibromyalgia

“Frozen shoulder”, “tennis elbow”

Localized traumatic injuries, sprains, strains, tendonitis, contractures

Low back pain

Muscle pain, swelling, stiffness and weakness

Osteoarthritis

Sciatica

Work and sports related injuries

Respiratory System Disorders

Acute bronchitis

Acute rhinitis

Acute sinusitis

Acute tonsillitis

Bronchial asthma

Common cold

Disorders of the Eye, Ear, Nose & Mouth

Acute and chronic pharyngitis

Acute conjunctivitis

Cataract (without complications)

Central retinitis

Gingivitis

Myopia (in children)

Toothaches, post extraction pain

Psychological Disorders

Anxiety

Depression

Hypersomnia

Insomnia

OCD

PTSD

Somatization disorder

Other Disorders

Appetite suppression

Withdrawal from street and pharmacological drugs