I can still remember the look on one of my patients’ faces as she entered my clinics doors. It was a look of defeat, exhaustion and hopelessness. The dark circles around her eyes gave me a glimpse into someone who desperately needed help. As I began her evaluation, she began to tear up stating that she has had chronic migraines for 20 years and must remain on medication to function from day to day. She told me that the medication helps, but it’s like a band-aide and she is just waiting for the next pounding headache that often causes her to vomit and retreat to her bedroom, surrounded by darkness as the light is always too much to bear.
Her Rx stated: “Chronic migraines, Dry needling” and I asked her if she had ever heard of dry needling. She said that she had, but until her doctor recommended it, she didn’t think it could help migraines. I explained to her that it may take a bit of time as this has been such a chronic issue for her that there are several places that could be involved in referring the pain. She gave me a bit of a forced smile and said, “I have lived with this for 20 years, I’m willing to try anything at this point.”
Upon her examination, I discovered multiple areas along her upper shoulders, into her neck muscles & even her mid-back that were so restricted that it was hard for me to grasp them. I explained to her that I would start with one side at a time.
Fast forward to 5 weeks later, and a woman comes walking into my clinic, bright-eyed and smiling from ear to ear. I almost did not recognize her as she even walked more upbeat. She hugged me and said that this was the first time in 20 years that she felt like herself again and reported no headaches for a week. She had even booked a vacation to Europe!
The point of this article is to inform people that there are alternative treatments out there, even if you’ve had chronic pain for years, do not lose hope. Keep searching for a treatment that fits your needs, and be your own health advocate. Doctor’s want to help you, but they sometimes may not be aware that you want to try an alternative therapy. Speak up and be bold in your quest to find treatments because life is too short to be in chronic pain!