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Self needling for migraine?

Q. I have suffered from severe migraine my entire life. I take daily medication which reduces attacks to 1-2 a year. When an attack begins, I haven't found any tablets that help. By chance I received acupuncture by my GP when I happened to see her whilst in the middle of an attack, which instantly ended the attack.


Would it be possible to be trained to give myself acupuncture (on the back of the hand) so I could use this as a first aid treatment if/when I suffer my next migraine?


A. Although it's great to hear of people having dramatic results from having treatment we do not encourage people to needle themselves. There are two main rasons. First, acupuncture involves piercing the skin and safely disposing of needles, and a professional practitioner spends a considerable time learning the skills and knowledge necessary to remove any risk of infection or cross-infection from the process. Our main complaint about very short training courses is that while they may train people in useful adjunctive skills they cannot hope to ensure that the person taking them is sufficiently well trained in safe needle practice and all the cautions that go with being a professional acupuncturist.


Second, although the treatment of symptoms has its place in Chinese medicine, symptoms are regarded as only a part of the picture, and are usually indicators of imbalances within the system which need attention. The risk is that using acupuncture in a first aid way, the underlying pattern is deteriorating, but the alarm bell which the symptom represents keeps getting turned off.


The fact that this works so well for you, however, is perhaps something you could discuss with your GP. Our members would possibly fall foul of our Codes of Professional Conduct if they taught people self-needling techniques, and our insurers would probably be less than happy with the practice. There have been one or two trials within the NHS which used self-needling, however, and it may be that your GP can authorise and delegate care in this way. If not, acupressure using the same points should offer a similar kind of relief.

World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation lists a wide variety of diseases or disorders for which acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials