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Acupuncture and Migraines

A migraine can put your entire day on hold. Whether you’re on a family vacation or at the office, the pain is often unbearable and distracting. Plus, migraines affect more than just your ability to focus and enjoy your day. Along with the pain can come a visual aura, which makes driving dangerous. While traditional medicine can ease the symptoms of migraines, sometimes it’s not enough. Luckily, where Western medicine might fail, Eastern medicine, like acupuncture, can sometimes help. Keep reading to learn about acupuncture and migraines, and don’t spend another afternoon stuck in bed with the curtains closed.

Woman undergoing acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture and Migraines

How It Works

Although scientists aren’t exactly sure why acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines, there are a few hypotheses. Acupuncture targets certain zones and pressure points that can relieve migraines. Depending on what type of pain you’re experiencing, a practitioner will insert acupuncture needles into different locations near nerves in your body. These needles stimulate the nerves to release endorphins, which trigger a response from your body. Many acupuncturists believe the circulation system stimulation is what relieves migraines.

Many practitioners also believe acupuncture keeps the energy flow balanced throughout your body. When an acupuncturist places needles at specific pressure points around your neck and forehead, it can slow pain transmission and relieve tension.

What to Expect

If you’ve never received acupuncture treatment before, it’s normal to feel a little nervous at the thought of having needles inserted into your skin. However, most people find acupuncture to be relaxing and painless. For migraine treatment, your acupuncturist might even give you a gentle head massage while placing the needles.

You can expect the process to take about an hour, and most patients require at least six sessions, about one per week. Your acupuncturist might allow you to meditate for about 20 minutes while the needles sit and do their work.

Acupuncture and Migraine Relief Research

Up until recent years, there weren’t enough reputable studies to convince skeptics of the healing effects of acupuncture. However, thanks to the development of retractable shams, devices that look like an acupuncture needle but do not penetrate the skin, scientists now have a reliable placebo to use for clinical trials (source).

A 2012 meta-analysis reviewed data from nearly 18,000 patients in 23 randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for common pain conditions. This analysis found that acupuncture treatment, compared to sham treatment, was effective in relieving low back pain, osteoarthritis, and migraines.

In a study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, almost 500 adults were treated with either acupuncture or sham treatment. All of the participants, even the group receiving placebo treatment, reported fewer migraines after treatment. However, only the group that received real acupuncture treatment experienced lasting effects for up to three months (source).

After reviewing numerous reputable and recent studies, the American Migraine Foundation agrees with the conclusion that at least six acupuncture sessions can be a valuable treatment option for those experiencing migraines. Regardless of whether you’ve tried other treatment options, consider giving acupuncture a chance.


Acupuncture is a highly effective natural remedy for migraines. If you are interested in learning more about acupuncture and migraines, reach out to Loehr Chiropractic & Acupuncture. We use acupuncture to help treat numerous conditions. For many people, acupuncture effectively promotes quick self-healing and long-term well-being.

To get started on a treatment plan, give us a call at 417-887-8075 or schedule your appointment today. We’ll discuss your needs and determine whether acupuncture is right for you. We firmly believe that the process of moving toward better health begins with determining your underlying issue. Our professionals provide high-quality health care for you and your family naturally. Experience the Loehr difference today.

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