Daith piercings, done for thousands of years, have recently become popular among migraine sufferers. The piercing, done on the innermost cartilage fold of the ear (see the hoop piercing in the image; can be done on one or both sides), is touted by advocates as being similar to acupuncture, targeting pressure points to help ease the incidence and pain of migraines. While alternative or additional options for migraine pain relief are encouraged, it’s important to understand going into this painful piercing that there are risks — of not only infection at the piercing site, but also that for some, it could even make their migraines worse. There are currently no studies available, and Snopes (the popular hoax vs. fact website) urges caution, so before going through the process, health experts recommend that you take baby steps first and try actual acupuncture. By trying this out prior to an actual piercing, a migraine sufferer can gauge whether she or he reacts to the technique first before actually getting the piercing.
If you’re looking for non-painful, non-pill alternatives to help manage your migraine pain or to use in conjunction with your traditional medications, you should also consider:
- Dietary tracking/food journaling (check out the free MigraineChecked app to track potential food and beverage triggers)
- Stress management
- Topical pain relief options, such as Stopain Migraine pain relieving gel, which is applied to the back of the neck behind each ear up to four times daily. It’s now available at Walmart, Rite Aid, HEB, Amazon.com, Drugstore.com and StopainMigraine.com.
Daith piercings, as promising as they may sound in social media, will not work for everyone and will not cure migraines, so speak to your physician (not your neighbor) before trying it.
According to The Migraine Trust, 50% of female migraine sufferers believe there to be a connection between their migraines and hormone fluctuations of their periods. Doctors, for years, have been telling these women that their migraine episodes would decrease, even stop, as menopause approached (one pleasant side effect, perhaps, of growing older!). However, a recent study published by Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain (a publication of the American Headache Society) has turned this notion on its head, literally.
According to the new research, of the more than 3,600 females in the study who suffered migraines before and during menopause, the risk of high-frequency migraines (10 or more a month) increased 60% during perimenopause (the stage prior to menopause, which can begin as early as age 35).
Why the increased frequency of migraines during perimenopause? The study authors believe changes in female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that occur during the perimenopause phase may trigger increased headaches during this time. In fact, the new research found the risk of migraine to be HIGHEST during the later stage of perimenopause when women’s levels of estrogen were lowest.
The end of perimenopause didn’t end the episodes in many. The frequency of migraine increased 76% after menopause. While hormone issues may not be to blame, researchers believe the overuse of pain medication for other purposes (joint or back pain, for instance), can actually trigger migraines after menopause.
If you’re thinking, how am I ever going to cope with hot flashes, night sweats and migraines, here are a few things to consider:
- Researchers suggest consulting your physician to discuss the possibility of hormonal therapies, such as birth control pills or estrogen patches, to help level out hormonal changes that occur during the perimenopause and menopause.
- Reduce the risk of pain medication overuse with a no-pill, topical option for migraine pain relief. Stopain® Migraine (stopainmigraine.com), the first, over-the-counter topical gel formulated specifically for migraine pain relief, contains no acetaminophen, aspirin or caffeine, making it an alternative or adjunct for migraine pain relief. Its rapid onset of action, direct application to the back of the neck and behind each ear, and lack of systemic side effects or drug interactions is appealing to those who want to try it as the first step in migraine pain management before resorting to over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription migraine pain medications.
OnabotulinumtoxinA (known as Botox-A or Botox) is commonly used in cosmetic dermatology procedures to block signals from the nerves to relax the muscles, softening the resulting lines particularly on the forehead, in crow’s feet and frown lines. In 2010, it gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval as a migraine treatment for those who experience 15 or more migraines per month.
Botox treatments for migraines are typically given once every three months, with treatments involving 25-30 small injections at a time, with treatments spanning across a 15-month period. Doctors inject multiple doses of Botox in various points, such as the bridge of the nose, the temples, the forehead, the neck, back of the head and upper back. The expense may be covered by insurance, but it is quite costly otherwise.
While thought to be promising and still commonly used as a migraine treatment, a 2012 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed 27 trials that compared Botox to placebo and four studies that compared it to other migraine treatments. The findings? That Botox injections were not effective for preventing migraines in patients with less than 15 headaches per month, and those with more than 15 episodes a month had only two fewer migraines per month. While two few less is still less, those who opt for Botox will still need other options for migraine relief in conjuction, such as prescription pills, over-the counter options or alternative topical pain relief like Stopain Migraine. If you are thinking of getting Botox for migraines, first consult with a reputable physician and talk to others who have experienced the treatment.