Rosemary Donahue
September 06, 2015 8:00 am

I suffer from chronic headaches. About three times a week, a throbbing pain starts in my right temple and I’m sent directly to bed. I’ve been prescribed every migraine medicine, been sent to physical therapy, and even tried fasting (though I didn’t make it very long)—so far, nothing has worked, at least not long-term. When acupuncture was suggested to me as a possible headache cure, I quickly got over my fear of needles to give it a try.

Acupuncture is the insertion of tiny, tiny needles into the skin at strategic points with the aim of relieving pain. I can vouch for how tiny these needles are—I made my acupuncturist show me one before my first treatment, even though I was already face down on the table. The procedure itself is only minimally painful. I had a headache when we started the first time, and though I couldn’t feel most of the needles, one inserted into my temple sent a shooting pain up the side of my skull for about two seconds. After the procedure, my headache had subsided a bit, from about a 6 on the pain scale to a 3.

I’ve now had six treatments, and have begun to notice some positive effects—however, most of them are not the effects I had anticipated. I can’t say for sure if I’m experiencing fewer headaches as a result of my foray into acupuncture; I would say, rather, that my headaches have changed. I experience two or so a week that still require medicine, but I usually don’t have the constant shallow, nagging headache that I was living with every day before. While I’ve been slightly disappointed that my headaches have only minimally subsided, I did realize something else—acupuncture has been a huge step in curing my phone addiction, and the anxiety that came along with it.

During my first few acupuncture treatments, I realized that it had been a long while since I’d ignored my phone for any period of time. I am someone who needs to check her phone immediately whenever it beeps and clear all red circle notifications to feel at ease. I am constantly available to others, even when I’m busy or trying to relax. However, lying facedown on a table with needles in my neck forced me to put my own needs first and ignore the beeps and buzzes. I began to get comfortable with this feeling in those small increments, and these days I find myself less inclined to drop everything and answer the phone whenever it beeps.

Since I started acupuncture, I have noticed I’ve also been sleeping better (and having wild dreams!), holding less tension in my neck and shoulders, and I do feel like my stress levels are reduced overall. Part of that may be the acupuncture itself, and part may be a placebo effect that comes with feeling proactive. Either way, I’ll take it.

(Image via iStock)

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