I have been suffering from migraines for a few years and have just started acupuncture in the hope it will help. Could you kindly advise how often I should have a treatment and for how long should I plan to continue

Q. I have been suffering from migraines for a few years and have just started acupuncture in the hope it will help. Could you kindly advise how often I should have a treatment and for how long should I plan to continue to have the sessions to fully see if it is successful?

A. It is surprising how infrequently we are asked about the treatment of migraines, since it is one of the more common referrals we get. The evidence, which you can see from our factsheet

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/1148-migraines.html

is pretty good.

Of course, the one thing that we always have to say is that each person is unique and different, and the standard treatments used in these trials are not always indicative of the way that we actually work. Twenty people presenting with the same named condition might be treated twenty different ways.

This also means that each individual presentation, the problem and the context in which it lies, can profoundly affect how much treatment and for how long. Most of us would regard a good routine as four or five sessions at once a week, and then stretching the gaps to a fortnight and up to a month over the next three to four months. We have found that simply treating weekly until the symptoms abate is not always successful, and that without later follow-up there is a danger that the migraines will return. Patients then conclude that the treatment didn't work, which is probably not the case.

Of course, this routine can vary tremendously. If someone has three migraines a week then treatment might be more than once a week to bring things under control. In other cases, where the migraines are related to specific patterns like the menstrual cycle a practitioner might target particular times of month for a few months.

All we ask that our members do is that they review treatment at regular intervals to ensure that there really is some progress, and to ensure that the patient is happy to give continuing consent. What we try to avoid is a treatment 'habit' where someone books week after week without realising that they've run to ten or fifteen sessions without result. This can sometimes make patients unhappy.

However, most people appear to benefit from treatment, and we hope that this is the case for you.

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