Case Studies:

Cluster Migraines

The client

Judy is a 64-year-old woman who suffers from migraines. She presented at the clinic after a series of daily and extremely painful migraines. These clusters of migraines occur several times a year. The pain starts through the back of her mouth on the left side then travels up through the face and covers the left side of her head. Often the pain will commence at night whilst Judy is asleep. These migraines can last the whole day and Judy often takes strong medication to help with the pain, but this provides little comfort and she resorts to lying in a dark room for a whole day or longer. Judy’s migraines have been attributed to dehydration, exhaustion, stress and seasonal change, though there is no clear trigger that Judy could avoid to prevent her migraines.

The treatment

Judy has previously tried acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. She did get some relief from these treatments, though she still suffers from these awful cluster migraines. On this occasion we decided to try a different acupuncture method called the ‘balancing method’. Rather than needling close to the pain area, such as the neck and shoulders, the balancing method involves acupuncture points that are located distally to the problem area. According to acupuncture theory all areas in the body have channels or meridians flowing through it. These meridians have correlating channels in other or opposite parts if the body. Often these channels can have something like a sibling or parent and child relationship. By needling one channel we can treat a completely different part of the body.

Implementing the balancing method means we can treat a migraine with acupuncture points in the hand and arm or foot and leg.This may sound contradictory, but it has proven to be successful in this case. I performed one acupuncture treatment for Judy and she woke that night with a migraine, though the intensity of the pain was reduced by 40%. We then did two more consecutive treatments and she slept though the night without pain. We then followed up with another two treatments over the next week and her migraines did not return. Thereafter we decided to do a monthly follow up treatment, and Judy has not had a migraine for two months.

The outcome

Other circumstances in Judy’s life, such as her stress levels, may have an impact on whether she suffers another cluster of migraines. Hopefully by managing her stress, enjoying moderate exercise and maintaining good nutritional habits, she can avoid another attack. However, it’s wonderful to know that we can effectively treat her migraines when they occur, and potentially stop an ongoing cluster of migraines with a few simple acupuncture treatments.

Nick ConquestNick Conquest
Chinese Medicine Practitioner