38 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraines, according to Migraine.com. Of those 38 million, 11 million people say their disability is due to migraines.
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness month. With so many people suffering from migraines, it seems that we’re pretty aware of the problem. However, according to Dr. Gabriel Paulian of SIMEDHealth’s Rehabilitation Medicine, not all headaches and migraines are the same.
First, it’s important to know that a headache is defined as continuous pain, tension, or throbbing in the head and neck area. This can be caused by any number of problems such as dehydration, substance withdrawal, and side effects of another condition. A migraine is normally experienced as a headache but includes additional symptoms such as sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, blurred vision, vomiting, and more. However, sometimes migraine symptoms can occur without a headache. A migraine can last from a few hours to a few days.
“Migraines manifest differently in every patient. There are multiple types of headaches and migraines as well,” Dr. Paulian said.
In fact, there are about 17 different kinds of headaches and about 24 types of migraines.
“This is the reason why treatment is different for every patient,” Dr. Paulian said. “Getting a clear diagnosis is the key to guiding pain management.”
There are a number of different treatment methods for headaches and migraines that most commonly involve medications. However, if your migraines are the side effect of another condition, further medication may not be right for you. This is why Dr. Paulian recommends a lesser-known treatment for migraines, acupuncture.
Acupuncture is the process of inserting very small needles in specific locations of the body to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. This process is also used to increase blood flow and stimulate nerves and tissue.
“Acupuncture for migraines is effective and one of the safest treatment options. There are no side effects, unlike other medications. The process at SIMEDHealth’s Rehabilitation Medicine clinic only lasts about 5 minutes and the pain relief is usually a few weeks,” Dr. Paulian said.
Acupuncture can also be used to treat other areas of the body experiencing pain such as the lower pain, neck, knees and other joints.
If left untreated, headaches and migraines can affect your overall mood, sleep patterns, and stress levels. These symptoms may lead to additional physiological problems in the future as well. For complex headaches and migraines, Dr. Paulian also recommends a referral to a SIMEDHealth neurologist to find the right treatment plan.
“If you say you are having bad headaches, you should see someone in our clinic right away,” Dr. Paulian said.