How I Finally Found Relief From Migraines With Acupuncture
When all other treatments fell short of relieving my frequent and debilitating migraines, acupuncture finally made a difference. For years, I had to bail on plans because the intense pain of migraines kept me bedridden. My kids have repeatedly heard that mommy couldn’t do this or that because she had a headache. “Headache” sounds so mild compared to the real nastiness of a full-fledged migraine. The pain is so bad that everything – light, sound, and movement – are all unbearable.
Suffering from intense migraines since my early thirties, I’d tried every imaginable remedy. I have cataloged my “triggers” in the hopes that by avoiding them, I’d prevent future episodes. When my triggers turned out to be rain, snow, pollen, stress, monthly hormonal changes, and wine, I knew I needed another approach. Over the counter medications didn’t cut it either. They barely took the edge off of the pain. Prescription meds did the trick but left me so tired and groggy I could barely function – basically back where I started.
My experience with acupuncture
I resigned myself to a life dotted with these blank spaces of days that I just couldn’t be a part of because of my migraines. That is until relief arrived in the form of a mysterious 2,000-year-old therapy. A few years ago, my mother mentioned that she’d tried acupuncture for knee pain, and it had helped. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of medicine based on re-booting the meridians, or pathways, throughout the body that carry energy or “chi.” Illness and pain erupt when chi is blocked. Needles are inserted at certain points on the body that correspond to body parts or health systems of concern.
It sounded so exotic and invasive. (Maybe that’s the “puncture” part.) But I was desperate for relief: a ready and willing pincushion. After learning to my surprise that treatment was covered by my health insurance, I found a clinic right in my own town. Maybe acupuncture wasn’t so exotic after all? After a brief consultation about my health history, symptoms, and lifestyle, it was time to begin. The acupuncturist dimmed the lights, played the requisite “Zen” background music and lit candles. Lying on my back on a massage table, I was nervous but hopeful. The practitioner quickly inserted paper-thin needles at strategic points up and down my body.
I felt no pain and was surprisingly relaxed. I was left to rest in the quiet room while the first round of needles “took.” They were everywhere: my ears, temples, arms, and ankles. Thin metal wires were poking out at every angle – and it was utter heaven. Within a single visit, I knew I was on to something. Leaving the office, I felt blissful. I had decompressed so much that it took me a few minutes to gather my bearings before driving home.
Sessions followed weekly for the next month or so and tapered off to monthly once I felt noticeable relief. Two weeks after my first appointment, it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a single headache since the previous visit. The benefits of acupuncture were confirmed when the first snowstorm of the winter passed uneventfully for me. Intense weather had always meant a migraine for me in the past. But this year I went sledding with the kids. It was awesome.
While acupuncture continues to be a blessing for me for preventing migraines, it does require a commitment. When I don’t keep up with my appointments, I’m right back where I started. The number of emotional and physical conditions acupuncture has been known to treat is impressive. Besides leaving me pain-free, I generally feel more patient, optimistic, and grounded after every session. For me, the best part about acupuncture is that it’s a natural option. There are no side effects to consider. I don’t have to wonder what it’s doing to my body. Sure, I can become dependent on it, but that’s not a bad thing. Acupuncture might not be the answer for everyone, but for me, a little tinkering with my chi is just what the doctor ordered.
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