From East To West: Acupuncture to Omega Migraine Procedure for Pain Relief

May 24, 2012

If you are one of the 30 million migraine sufferers in the United States, and you haven’t found relief from medication, you may be thinking about a newly popular eastern medicine treatment such as acupuncture.  Or you may be looking at western interventional treatments such as the Omega migraine procedure.

Acupuncture is an ancient Asian art that has been used for centuries to treat chronic pain including back pain, nerve pain, fibromyalgia and headache.  According to Healthbeat, a Harvard University health newsletter, various research studies suggest there may be some evidence supporting the beneficial effects of acupuncture in treating tension headaches and migraines, drug free.

Various forms of acupuncture have distinctive techniques.  The acupuncturist typically inserts 4 to 10 needles and leaves them in place from about 10 to 30 minutes while the patient rests.  In traditional Chinese acupuncture, very fine needles are inserted into specific ‘acupoints’ and manipulated, to correct imbalances in the flow of qi or ‘energy flow’ through channels known as ‘meridians.’ There is some evidence to link pain relief with a release of painkilling natural endorphins in the body, which may affect the brain’s serotonin levels, which in turn affects mood.

Japanese acupuncture involves shallower needle insertions and no manipulations.  The Korean form of acupuncture limits needle placement to the feet and hands.

Similarly, acupressure is a therapy that doesn’t use needles but instead involves deep finger pressure at the acupoints.

The parallel between the ancient art of acupuncture and western advancements such as the Omega procedure are interesting.  Like acupuncture, the Omega procedure stimulates target areas in order to relieve pain.  However, the Omega procedure does differ: it is based on neurostimulation, which has been used for over 40 years to relieve pain.  In the procedure, a physician implants thin leads that gently stimulate the nerves associated with migraine pain.  The leads are connected to a small, implanted battery designed to recharge wirelessly and to last up to ten years.

If you are searching for a drug free migraine alternative, the best thing is to always speak first with your pain management physician, and according to the Harvard University health newsletter, if you choose to try acupuncture make sure to seek out a licensed practitioner.

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