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Exploring the Potential of Dry Needling for Migraine Relief

Migraines can be debilitating, affecting millions of people worldwide. While there are various treatment options available, some individuals seek alternative therapies to complement their conventional treatments. One such therapy gaining attention is dry needling. In this blog, we will explore the potential benefits of dry needling for migraine relief, how it works, and its role in managing these intense headaches.

1. Understanding Dry Needling:

Dry needling is a technique used by trained healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists or acupuncturists, to alleviate pain and muscle tension. It involves inserting thin, solid needles into specific trigger points or tight muscles, without injecting any substances. The goal is to stimulate the release of tension and promote healing.

2. How Dry Needling May Help with Migraines:

While the exact mechanisms of how dry needling works for migraines are not fully understood, there are several theories:

- Trigger point release: Dry needling can target trigger points, which are hyperirritable spots in muscles associated with pain. By releasing these trigger points, muscle tension and pain may be reduced, potentially alleviating migraine symptoms.

- Neurological modulation: Dry needling may stimulate the nervous system, leading to the release of endorphins and other natural pain-relieving substances. This modulation of the nervous system may help reduce the intensity and frequency of migraines.

- Improved blood flow: Dry needling may enhance blood circulation in the treated areas, promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and surrounding tissues. Improved blood flow can help reduce muscle tension and potentially alleviate migraine symptoms.

3. The Role of Dry Needling in Migraine Management:

Dry needling is not a standalone treatment for migraines but can be used as part of a comprehensive management plan. It may be beneficial in the following ways:

- Pain relief: Dry needling can provide temporary relief from migraine pain by targeting trigger points and reducing muscle tension.

- Preventive approach: Regular dry needling sessions may help prevent migraines by addressing muscle imbalances and reducing trigger point activity.

- Complementary therapy: Dry needling can be used alongside other conventional treatments, such as medication, lifestyle modifications, and stress management techniques, to enhance overall migraine management.

4. Seeking Professional Guidance: If you are considering dry needling for migraines, it is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional who is trained in this technique. They can assess your condition, determine the appropriate treatment plan, and ensure your safety throughout the process. It is important to note that dry needling may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or needle phobias.

Dry needling is an alternative therapy that shows promise in providing relief for individuals suffering from migraines. By targeting trigger points, promoting muscle relaxation, and potentially modulating the nervous system, dry needling may offer a complementary approach to managing these intense headaches. However, it is essential to work with a qualified healthcare professional to determine the suitability of dry needling for your specific condition and to develop a comprehensive migraine management plan. Remember, individual responses to treatments can vary, so it's important to find the approach that works best for you in consultation with your healthcare team.

Raelene Clark B.Sc.,M.Sc.Med.(Orofacial Pain Management) is a graduate of the University of Sydney School of Medicine and Dentistry, Pain Management Program, having completed the Orofacial Pain stream. Raelene is the only Western Australian therapist with this qualification, and there are only 3 in Australia is this highly specialised clinical area. She works from Medika Health Clinic where she treats acute headache and migraine, and at Painless Clinic where she works as part of an interdisciplinary team providing care and treatment for those with chronic, or long-term multifactorial head and neck pain conditions. She has over 30 years experience in this field and is happy to be the guide by the side with patients on their journey to reclaiming their life from acute and chronic head pain. She can be contacted at

References Pourahmadi, M., Dommerholt, J., Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, C., Koes, B. W., Mohseni-Bandpei, M. A., Mansournia, M. A., Delavari, S., Keshtkar, A., & Bahramian, M. (2021). Dry Needling for the Treatment Of Tension-Type, Cervicogenic, or Migraine Headaches: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Physical Therapy, 101(5). Pourahmadi, M., Mohseni-Bandpei, M. A., Keshtkar, A., Koes, B. W., Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, C., Dommerholt, J., & Bahramian, M. (2019). Effectiveness of dry needling for improving pain and disability in adults with tension-type, cervicogenic, or migraine headaches: protocol for a systematic review. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 27(1). Rezaeian, T., Mosallanezhad, Z., Nourbakhsh, M. R., Noroozi, M., & Sajedi, F. (2020). Effects of Dry Needling Technique Into Trigger Points of the Sternocleidomastoid Muscle in Migraine Headache. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 99(12), 1129–1137.

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