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Starting Acupuncture for My Chronic Migraine

Acupuncture is one of those remedies that some people say help them with migraine pain and prevents their attacks. There have been studies as well as anecdotal accounts on social media or forums like ours about acupuncture. It works for some people and for others it doesn’t make a dent. Of course there are infinite variables like stressors, how often you get treatment, other health conditions, and the list goes on and on.

What have my past experiences with acupuncture been?

I’d had acupuncture in the past but I’d never tried it for headaches or migraine specifically. When I was in college and had that good parent insurance, acupuncture was covered. I found a small practice near school and started going once a week to help with sinus issues and muscle tension. When the practitioner moved away, I got out of the habit of getting acupuncture. Later, when I was out of school and insurance no longer covered regular acupuncture, I went to a community acupuncture place where you sit in reclining chairs in a big room with a bunch of other people. It was very warm, very cozy, and a little weird. It was also inexpensive. I also went to our school of acupuncture for discounted treatments. I couldn’t prove the acupuncture was doing anything in particular because I didn’t have good data on myself. All I knew was I went for muscle tension reasons and I found the acupuncture relaxing.

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Why did I decide to revisit acupuncture?

When my migraine went from episodic to chronic, I sought Western medical advice but was still getting migraine attacks and migraine-adjacent symptoms like light sensitivity and fog. I went back to the community place at the tail end of a weeks-long bout of symptoms and found the session to be extremely relaxing, which was a boon at the time in my exhausted and pained state. I checked my insurance. Sure enough, acupuncture was covered, including at a clinic five minutes from my house.

What did the practitioner learn about my migraine?

At my intake, I told the practitioner about my history with acupuncture and migraines. When she asked follow-up questions about my migraine symptoms and frequency, I gave her the latest news, to which she said, “So it’s like you have a migraine all the time.” I hadn’t thought about it that way because I hadn’t wanted to think about it that way. I didn’t have a migraine all the time but I did have at least one neurological symptom most of the time. In the rare moments over the last couple months when I felt totally clear, it was like the clouds had parted and I could see the sky. I’d go into hyperproductivity, trying to get all my work and other life tasks done before the next wave hit. Working so hard and fervently probably contributed to my ultimate downfall back into migraine.

How was the treatment?

The practitioner had me lie on my face on a heated massage table and she felt my alignment. I could tell right away that I’d picked a good one. I always get ASMR when I know I can trust someone who does massage, stretch therapy, or acupuncture and I for sure got that feeling now. She put the needles in, turned on a playlist of spa music, heavily featuring the sound of waves and let me be for an hour. I drifted in and out of sleep, feeling like I was on a boogie board in the waves, but warm and dry and enveloped in safety.

How did it make me feel after?

When she came back and took out the needles, I had a hard time wanting to come back down to Earth, but I dressed and met her in the lobby. Sometimes when I’ve had a massage I've felt uncomfortably drunk afterwards, like I’d taken a too hard, too long nap. I did feel dreamy and sleepy as I made my next appointment, but in a very relaxed, controlled way. I didn’t feel like something had been leached out of me or that I was bogged down by exhaustion. Instead, I felt like the spa music was still playing in my ears and I was able to take on the day, clear headed and not in pain.

I can’t wait to go back.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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