Migraine is a widely prevalent condition which causes enormous personal suffering and substantial cost to the society. This condition is characterized by a one sided or bilateral throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting, intolerance to light and noise. In many cases the headache is preceded by an aura or scotomata, (zigzag flashing lights in the field of vision); in some cases transient neurological symptoms including difficulty in speaking, or weakness of the extremities. (These patients should see a doctor immediately if not previously evaluated or if this is a significant change in their migraines.) Some patients may have only rare episodes, but many suffer from recurrent headache. The present treatment options include pain killers, anti-inflammatory medications, the Sumatriptan group of drugs (Maxalt, Zomig etc.), Amitryptiline (Elavil), Valproeic acid (Depakote). Though these drugs are better than the previous ones, still the efficacy, safety and cost of these drugs are in question especially in recurrent migraine. A patient suffering from a severe headache often ends up in the emergency room and is usually treated with intravenous medications. These medications cause drowsiness and fatigue, and patients are rarely able to go back to work. When a person suffers from recurrent, severe migraines, the cost, in terms of health care dollars spent, physical and emotional suffering as well as lower productivity at work, is immeasurable.

In my experience, even a patient with a very severe headache, who otherwise would have ended up in the hospital emergency room, responds quickly to acupuncture (within 20-40 minutes) in the office. Most of the patients feel energized, become alert and awake, and are even able to resume normal functioning. This has been affirmed by other studies including a study from Germany which reported the beneficial effects of acupuncture in several thousands of patients. What is even more intriguing is that I have found that after 4-5 consecutive treatments, the recurrence of the headaches may decrease or stop altogether for an extended period of time.