Migraine is a common condition affecting nearly every one in five women, and one in fifteen men. For many, the headache is one of the worst pains that can be experienced, characterised by a constant throbbing pain on one side of the head, lasting anywhere between two hours to three days. Other symptoms, like nausea and dizziness, are also common. When a headache strikes, it can be so debilitating that patients will take to their bed.
Some migraine sufferers also experience vision disturbance, seeing flashing lights prior to a migrane attack. Sensitivity to light and noise is also common during migraine episodes.
The frequency of migraine attacks can vary. Some experience it twice a week, while others once a month. Many triggers could bring on migranes. Commonly found factors are stress, poor body position, menstruation, depletion of tea/coffee, and cheese.
The condition is not classified as a disease yet as the nature of it is still unclear. Two theories are most quoted as vascular theory which emphasis the pressure change in the blood vessels in the brain, and the neurological theory thought the temporary changes in the chemicals in the brain is to blame.
Painkillers are commonly used as pain relief. Some of these are very strong, such as Triptans. However, side effects from the use of strong painkillers are common.
A tension-type headache is the most common type of headache and the one we think of as a normal, everyday headache. Headaches normally won’t be severe enough to prevent you from your everyday activities and are not the concern of medical practitioners. Over-counter painkillers, like aspirin and paracetamol are frequently used to as pain relief.
There is a no clear difference between severe cases of tension-type headache and migraine, because there is no easy and clear differential diagnosis method employed.
Acupuncture is used in many countries for migraine prophylaxis – that is, to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.
According to Linde at al (2009) in a systematic review that included 22 trials to discover whether acupuncture is effective in the management of migraine or migrane relief. It was found that patients who received acupuncture had fewer headaches. In the four trials in which acupuncture was compared to a proven drug treatment, patients receiving acupuncture reported more improvement and fewer side effects. Collectively, the studies suggest that migraine patients benefit from acupuncture. Other studies also suggest that acupuncture reduced both the frequency of headache and the severity and length of the pain experienced during migraine attacks.
Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR (2009) Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis (Review) Cochrane Database Systematic Review. Issue 4.
Source: Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM) UK