Migraine is a neurological condition that is characterized by a number of symptoms. Most notable of such indicators is the disabling headache pain and nausea experienced by migraine sufferers (also known as migraineurs ). Migraine is one of those conditions for which many patients despair of ever finding a solution.
The sheer number and variety of medicines prescribed to migraineurs is a testament to the scattershot nature of traditional migraine treatment. Many patients never find an effective preventive medicine and must rely instead on over-the-counter or prescription painkillers. The long-term use of analgesic medications can cause serious health problems. Some drugs can be addictive while others may cause an effect known as ‘rebound headaches’ in which the relief of pain leads only to additional headache episodes.
More specifically, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin) can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, and liver damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control, NSAID usage is the fourteenth leading cause of death in the United States. Opiates, a class of drugs that includes morphine or oxycodone, can cause addiction and rebound headaches.
Typical migraine headaches can last anywhere from four to 72 hours; they tend to affect one side of the head and consist of four stages. The stages of migraine include the prodrome, aura, pain, and postdrome; together, these stages comprise an experience that may include visual, auditory, and olfactory disturbances; nausea and vomiting; severe headache pain; numbness; fatigue; irritability; digestive problems; vertigo; sensitivity to light, touch, and sound; depression; and temporary dysphasia (difficulty swallowing).
Acupuncture for Migraine in Sea Girt
The first thing to note about acupuncture is that it is a safe, painless, and drug-free practice. It has been used for thousands of years in China for pain relief for reasons that are now becoming increasingly clear through modern medical studies. Acupuncture is flourishing in the Western world as more people begin to view the health of their bodies holistically (as a whole), as opposed to distinct, separate areas of specialty.
Chinese medicine seeks to rebalance and harmonize all of the body’s systems in order to provide relief from pain and disorder, including migraine symptoms. The health of the body as a whole is directly related to its Qi , or life energy, which must remain unblocked and in perfect balance as it flows throughout the body. Other central precepts to the ancient practice of acupuncture include Yin and Yang, the opposing forces that are responsible for the body’s organs.
Many patients may wonder at the relevance of these concepts; some may struggle to understand how any of these ancient ideas can change the fact that they are living on a day-to-day basis with a painful disorder. The answer may lie in a number of medical studies which have proven acupuncture’s very real effects on the body.
One explanation is based on acupuncture’s effect on the production of certain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers. In particular, acupuncture has been shown to boost the production of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. Endorphins are the body’s natural opiate-like painkillers. Increased serotonin can lead to enhanced mood and may lessen pain signals as they reach the brain. Because migraine is often thought to be directly related to the production of serotonin, acupuncture’s affect on the migraineur’s brain may be particularly relevant.
Treatment for Migraine at Sea Girt Spine and Rehabilitation
Acupuncture is a useful tool in exploiting the body’s natural ability to fight pain. Our office also provides chiropractic care and physical therapy as part of an overall plan of attack that addresses what causes migraine while treating its symptoms. In many cases, migraine is a warning sign of a larger problem involving disorder within the body’s central nervous system. For patients diagnosed with migraines related to spinal misalignment, chiropractic care provides a solution.