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Has anybody found that Acupuncture makes their migraines worse ?

  • By MigraineSal

    I have had four Acupuncture sessions ( in the UK ) for Cervical Spondylotic Disease which can trigger migraines and was told that the positioning of the treatment would probably also help with migraines.

    I have had continuous postdrome type symptoms for the past month and have just realised that it is probably the same time as my Acupuncture treatment so before I jump on the Acupuncture ” reason rather than co-incidence ” I thought I would ask if anyone else had found that Acupuncture gave them similar issues.

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    MigraineSal,
    I tried acupuncture years ago, before they became chronic. I felt like it help much after 9 months of treatment. Several times Migraines started while I was actually on the table or shortly thereafter.

    I am open to trying it again with another practioner. Many people swear by it. But maybe it’s just not going to work for either of us! Definitely talk to your acupuncturist before stopping treatments.
    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

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  • By MigraineSal

    Thank you very much for your very helpful reply Katie . . . I have spoken to my GP and to the Clinical Specialist Manager of the Centre that provided the treatment and I am now having clotting blood tests on Friday after I had blood flowing when one of the needles was removed last week.

    The CSM is going to call me again once I have my results and approval to continue treatment from my GP to discuss her taking over my treatment and the possibility of using finer needles / different Acupuncture points. I received a reply to an enquiry I made to the British Acupuncture Council after my last treatment session after I had spoken the to CSM and they gave a completely different view on the clinical procedures to the Centre that provided the service. The BAcC said that blood loss after the removal of a needle is not common and they replied ‘no’, definitely not when I asked if it was appropriate to use the paper table cover I had laid on to mop any drawn blood when the needles were removed. These responses were in complete contrast to the responses I got from the Centre where I had the treatment so I need to think very carefully before I continue with treatment there !

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    Oh wow! I never had bleeding like that after the needles were removed and I have a blood clotting disorder! So glad you did all that research. Clearly if you are still willing, you should try a different center!
    -Katie

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  • By Schmee

    Yup. Acupuncture can make it worse, although only a little. It can’t turn a mild case into a big case, but it can trigger a migraine. I’ve had it happen myself, with an acupuncturist I really trust. It was just the wrong kind of treatment. I let him know and the next time he did a different kind of treatment on me. Totally worked.

    This is more likely to happen if your practitioner uses a lot of needles (more than 15) or uses electro-acupuncture. The good news is that most practitioners know more than one way to do acupuncture, so if you are not responding well, be honest about it and your practitioner might have something different to try.

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  • By Schmee

    Yup. Acupuncture can make it worse, although only a little. It can’t turn a mild case into a big case, but it can trigger a migraine. I’ve had it happen myself, with an acupuncturist I really trust. It was just the wrong kind of treatment. I let him know and the next time he did a different kind of treatment on me. Totally worked.

    This is more likely to happen if your practitioner uses a lot of needles (more than 15) or uses electro-acupuncture. The good news is that most practitioners know more than one way to do acupuncture, so if you are not responding well, be honest about it and your practitioner might have something different to try.

    Also, a little bleeding (a tiny drop) is TOTALLY NORMAL after acupuncture. Not a concern. It was weird that they used the table paper to clean it up. Once, my acupuncturist deliberately made me bleed on a point behind my knee. It really cut down on the vertigo I experience.

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  • By RogueRose

    I’m curious about this. I just started dry-needling last Thursday and had a bought of really bad headaches all weekend and since. But it coincided with some bad weather and other things so I can’t definitively say it was the dry-needling. I am getting more-dry-needling tomorrow so we shall see…..the physical therapist did feel an improvement in one of my muscles though yesterday so it helped with something.

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  • By Schmee

    Oh boy. OK, so there’s this controversy in alternative medicine land. Right now, the only people in the US who can do acupuncture are licensed acupuncturists. But physical therapists and chiropractors are not happy about this. So they go out and they buy acupuncture needles and they call it “dry needling.” And they think they are good because they are not violating the law. *sigh*

    Some of these people are well trained. Most of them are well intentioned. Most of them are also likely to give you lousy acupuncture. Now remember, I have a certain POV, being an acupuncturist myself. I went through a 4 year graduate level program, entirely focused on acupuncture. It included two YEARS of clinical training on doing this safely.

    Some of these @#$&% doing dry needling have only a weekend course in doing so. They are not, IMHO, safe. They are not giving you the benefit of a fully trained acupuncturist. And yes, it might be making your headaches worse, especially if they are treating exclusively around the head and neck. Proper treatment for migraines include stimulating other body centers. Its really more of a nervous system problem than a just-my-head problem, right? I always give my migraine patients points to “ground the Chi.” I know, this is technical, and a little woo woo, but it works. If you let all the energy flow into the head, you are certain to create a migraine.

    Again, just my opinion. You should definately ask your PT where he/she got trained in dry needling and how long the clinical portion of their dry needling studies lasted. You might have happened upon one of the “good” ones who got themselves properly trained.

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  • By MigraineSal

    Gosh . . . what a flury of activity on my post . . . thank you !

    My acupuncture was for my neck condition and I was told that the positioning of the needles may help with my migraines. I am convinced that my migraines were triggered after treatment because needles were placed at the top of my neck, where it joins the skull and I now know that this is one of my trigger points and an area I have to be very careful with. This is where the practitioner hit a vessle and caused the raised bruise and significant bleed . . . I could still feel a slight bump and slight pain if I touched it for weeks after the treatment ! I had plain needles for the first session to make sure my body reacted well to the needling and the following 3 sessions were electro-acupuncture and I was asked each visit if if I wanted this treatment and advised to keep the electro lower than I had requested as I could hardly feel it.

    The Clinical Specialist Manager did call me back and offered me finer needles and different acupuncture points and to continue the treatment herself but I lost confidence in her when she said she didn’t see a real issue with the practitioner mopping the blood with the table cover and that blood loss was normal as I have since found out that blood loss is not normal, unless a practitioner is not proficiently trained, or I assume wants the blood loss to occur as detailed in one of the replies to my original post. Interestingly enough the needles are inserted and treatment commenced by a trained practitioner ( not sure to what level she was trained ! ) but the lady who removed the needles was not trained and on reflection this was the problem in my case as I had four treatments and had blood mopped up three times – the one time no blood was mopped the needles were removed by a different person ! In my opinion I should never have been allowed to leave the Health Care Centre without being given an explaination of why I had had a significant bleed and bump where the needle had been . . . “you should be fine” is not acceptable and certainly doesn’t do it for me and I have never heard of anyone else have a problem such as mine !

    I would still tell people to try accupuncture as I genuinely believe that I was just very unlucky as the Centre has such a long waiting list that they are rushing people through by having two patients on the go at the same time. This means that they are operating with the trained practitioner starting the treatment, “unably” assisted by an untrained assistant . . . she is a lovely lady and is going to be undergoing training but she should have been supervised more closely if she draws blood everytime she removes neeles . . . unless I am just someone who bleeds easily, although blood tests after this fiasco have shown this not to be the case. I do hope that the Centre have taken the learnings raised from my treatment and made the improvements they assured me they would be making . . . I was not prepared to take a chance and try their facilities again myself though !

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  • By Schmee

    Acupuncture for a neck treatment should also be whole-body. The points I use first for neck pain are on the root of the fingers and toes, depending on which way the patient can’t turn his/her head.

    I’m sorry this happened to you. It sounds like a bad patient/practitioner match. As I said, I never use electroacupuncture or lots of stimulation on a migrainer’s neck. Its too likely to trigger the migraine. But, being that I suffer, too, I’m likely more sensitive than most to this issue.

    BTW, a small (quarter sized or less) bruise is normal with treatment, too. We don’t have a map of the capillaries and therefor cannot avoid hitting them by chance from time to time. Weird that it happened so much with you. Probably not about how the needles were removed but about how they were placed and the aggressive stimulation they were using. The table paper is still weird. Ever hear of a cotton ball, people?

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  • By Lynn Voedisch

    I’ve tried acupuncture successfully for several things, but it never worked for migraines. I think it has a poor track record for migraines, anyway.

    I was hospitalized recently for unrelenting migraines, and they tried acupuncture there. Once again, no reaction. I didn’t get worse, but I didn’t notice any improvement either.

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  • By Schmee

    My track record with stopping migraines that have already started is also pretty lousy. It just doesn’t work all that well. What I excel at is migraine prevention. Most of the people who come in for regular treatments report significantly fewer headaches.

    Sorry it didn’t work for you, Lynv

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  • By MigraineSal

    It is such a shame that Accupuncture didn’t work for quite a few of us but at least we gave it a go . . . I was especially disappointed as it was supposed to help my neck condition that triggers migraines but I couldn’t risk it with the concerns I had on the safety of the practitioners and the symptoms I was having afterwards.

    Good to hear that it does work for some people though and as we know Migraine remedies are very person specific so I will stick with my trusted iced wheaty bag on my neck and across my eyes and meditation session as these done together seem to work pretty well the majority of the time and at least I don’t get any bad effects with that method !

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  • By jsun35

    Hello –

    I have had awful migraine headaches for the past three years that have unfortunately become chronic in the past year. Although I have found sumatriptan to be very helpful when the attacks occur, I wanted to try an alternative approach in hopes of not having to take the medicine so often. I began acupuncture with a well qualified practitioner in June and while it has helped several other conditions, I am not so sure about the migraines. I thought for awhile that it made them easier to deal with when they hit, but I have noticed that after about 4 different sessions migraines set in that same day. Very discouraging! But I cannot say whether the migraines would have shown up anyway or not because I get them so often.

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  • By lerickson82

    Wanted to join in with my experiences. I had been going to one lady for about a month, but found that things were worse, especially the day after. Then she quit and another lady took over. She was wonderful and I felt great for days. However, her hours were very limited and I couldn’t get appointments with any consistency so I stopped going. About a year later I ended up in Diamond Headache Clinic’s inpatient program and had two treatments done by the acupuncturist there. She was REALLY good – the best of any of them. Unfortunately she is 2-3 hours away so not very practical. I haven’t been having the treatments in the last year but keep thinking about it. I’m just concerned about finding a good one.

    If one practitioner doesn’t work out, I think it’s worth trying another one.

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  • By MigraineSal

    Thank you very much for your replies . . . it is good to hear that I am not the only one who had a migraine after the treatment and also very encourraging to hear that it can be very successful when a good Practitioner undertakes the treatment. Money is an issue at the moment so I would only look to use an NHS Practitioner until my finances improve and I woud need to know that someone had used the Practitoner I try in my local area successfully before I invested any money in the treatment . . . I have heard of no pain, no gain but I don’t want to pay for the pain on top !

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  • By Panda2015

    I was very optimistic about acupuncture, as I really like to seek any sort of natural solutions over medication. My dad had gone to an acupuncturist, and she came highly recommended.

    She was very nice and attentive, and explained her experience in helping other migraine patients. It sounded great. Unfortunately, I left every appointment with a headache that often turned into a migraine. And it didn’t help at all with the frequency or level of pain. It didn’t make it worse, but certainly no better.

    Sorry to hear about your trouble, and hope you find a solution!

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  • By MigraineSal

    Thanks very much for your reply Panda2015 and sorry to hear that you didn’t have any luck with acupuncture either, especialy after finding a practitioner who came so highly recommended and with previous succes rates . . . at least it is good to know that we were not alone in ending up with a headache / migraine after treatment and that is a comfort in some respects.

    I have been very fortunate with my migraines ( thanks to my daily prevanetative and good neck care ) but do have blips ( when I have felt “normal” again and overdone it with someting that aggravates my neck, that triggers a migraine ! ) and I have used my tried and trusted meditating on ice with extra migraine meds to help me through and being able to track back and find the source of the migraine has also helped me accept and live with them and I do appreciate that I am very lucky to be able to do this, unlike other members on this Forum.

    Hope you have managed to find a solution, or at least some comfort when you are mid migraine.

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