By Trudi Rumball, Registered Acupuncturist
If you have ever suffered from a migraine, you are probably reading this right now, hoping I am going to reveal the magic cure. Is there one? The answer is…maybe! By exploring different alternative therapies, you may just find the perfect cure.
Migraines are a debilitating condition that affect 8% of people in Canada (approximately 2,00,000). Suffering from migraines can be extremely painful, and also cause a major impact on productivity (and your entire life). When most people have a migraine, they cannot work, miss planned activities, and it can disrupt relationships. Women are more common to suffer from migraines due to extreme hormonal fluctuations in puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, oral contraceptives and menopause. They can also be triggered by stress, environmental factors, foods, alcohol, muscle tension, misalignment and head injury. Migraines can last hours to days, and present with extreme pain in the head (usually one sided), nausea, vomiting, and photo sensitivity.
What can we do? I see a lot of people in my practice that suffer from migraines, and yes, acupuncture can help. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, most migraine sufferers have an imbalance in the liver meridian and/or an invasions of wind or heat. We look at the individual’s symptoms and location of the migraine, to assess what is going on in the body before deciding on a specific treatment plan. We choose points that release exterior factors, improve circulation, and enhance Qi flow. I have had clients that have suffered from chronic migraines for years, and after having regular acupuncture treatments, had them completely disappear over time. Each person is different, and each treatment plan is different, but response from acupuncture has been overall incredibly positive.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is also a very effective method for treating migraines. CST is a light touch bodywork that subtly works with the cranial bones, spine, sacrum and cerebral spinal fluid. People that have had concussions, head trauma, jaw issues, major dental work or even a traumatic birth can really benefit from CST treatments. I had a client who, as soon as she got pregnant, started suffering from debilitating migraines. Acupuncture would help for some relief, but they kept coming back after a day or so. One session of craniosacral therapy, and she was migraine free for the rest of her pregnancy! Body responses from energy work are different in everyone, so trying different modalities is extremely beneficial.
Identifying triggers is also a huge step in treating migraines. Keeping a food journal for a couple of months is extremely beneficial; a lot of people don’t even recognize potential food triggers unless they do this. Taking time to journal the conditions around the migraine is a good practice too. Weather, stress, hormonal fluctuations, moods, etc. can all play a major part in migraines. As a preventative treatment plan, regular massage and cupping help to keep soft tissue and fascia more pliable and relaxed, and regular chiropractic treatments help to keep the body balanced. Working with a team of therapists just might be the answer to living a migraine free life!