I’ve wanted to blog about this for a while now and it’s a little bit different to my usual posts about makeup but those of you who follow me will know I have suffered from awful migraines for most of my life and recently they’d become so debilitating they were absolutely affecting my life. I was suffering from severe migraines (along with vomiting) every 4-6 weeks and they lasted a good 12 hours each time – if you suffer from them you’ll know just how unmanageable that is, literally days when all I could do was lie in a dark room.
So, for a little background I’ll say that I’ve tried several different medications to prevent and manage my migraines but nothing seemed to work. Preventatives are great for stopping an attack at the onset but unfortunately most of my attacks begin while I sleep so usually I wake up at 6am, head pounding and already nauseous so I’ve never really been able to take a preventative before I’m already vomiting – and once it starts, it’s not stopping.
I’d very nearly reached the end of my tether with migraines, they were so regular and so horrific and I really didn’t know what else I could do; I’ve been for CT/MRI scans, which thankfully showed nothing sinister but couldn’t diagnose my problem or triggers. I’d been hearing lots about acupuncture helping others who suffered with migraines and eventually I decided to try it myself and I had my first session in August 2016.
First hand experience with acupuncture was really different than I had expected/been told. In fact, one of the first things my brilliant physiotherapist told me was that a common rumour is how it’s “pain-free,” which is not exactly the case. It’s not that I found it painful but it was uncomfortable and when the needle is inserted I felt a sort of electric shock and a sharp pinch, not unlike getting the flu jab I suppose. I’ll explain the after symptoms below.
On my first session I had 3 needles inserted in each foot (6 in total), one on the bridge which was consistently the most uncomfortable for me and tingled for a good 5 minutes each session before settling down, and one on either side of the ankle. My physiotherapist explained that these were actually the pressure points for migraines, or headaches. Each of my sessions lasted 20 minutes, the needles were placed in and left for those 20 minutes and you can sleep or read during that time, anything to relax. The amount of time your session lasts depends on your problem so your physiotherapist will decide on that.
After my first session, my physiotherapist warned me that I could be really tired and recommended I take a nap when I got home. I figured since I’m never tired and have never been one for napping that this wouldn’t affect me. But I was totally wrong! I was so exhausted and sore afterwards that I fell asleep as soon as I got home and slept for almost 2 hours. I can’t say the tiredness ever really went away after a session but it certainly lessened, I definitely didn’t need to sleep as soon as I got home and by the third or fourth session I just needed an early night. I explained my reaction and my physiotherapist advised that it was very common and nothing to worry about, the toxins leaving your body leave you quite drained, but she did alternate sessions with an additional 5 minutes of laser therapy around my ankles to help combat the tiredness. If you’re finding that you’re exhausted after sessions do mention it.
The redness you can see in the picture around the needle is actually an indication of how much toxicity was in my system which also explained the pain I felt in that particular point. This picture was actually taken during one of my last sessions, it was a lot worse when I started.
From my second session onwards I also had 2 needles placed in either side of my head; a total of 10 needles each session. Surprisingly, the needles in my feet were far more uncomfortable and tingly than those in my head! I had a total of 6 sessions, my final one being in November 2016. My first two sessions were weekly, and after that each session was pushed out a week until it was a full month between session 5 and 6. At this point, I hadn’t suffered a migraine in over 4 months. I had been having the odd tension headache which I informed my physiotherapist about and she advised they were common, I also really suffered from very painful feet after my sessions. Aching and sensitivity where the needles had been placed, it was quite uncomfortable putting weight on them for a day or so. But look, in the long run it was more than worth it!
After my final session, my physiotherapist asked if I was comfortable to call it my last session and if I ever started suffering again I could call her and she would arrange another session asap. She had advised that “top-up” treatments were sometimes necessary once or twice a year. I am actually amazed that acupuncture has been such a lifesaver for me. I’m the last person who believed it would be the cure. But in saying that, I went in for my first session with a positive attitude and told myself that it would help. I think there’s a lot to be said for a positive mental attitude!
If you’re suffering with migraines and have exhausted all medicinal options to no effect please do consider acupuncture. It may not work for everyone, as I’ve been told, but it did work for me and it’s been a life changer. At €40 a session in my physiotherapists it really doesn’t break the bank, and personally when you suffer that much you’ll pay anything to find a cure!