A Miracle Cure for Migraines? How to Tackle Your Tough Migraine Pain & Start Living Again!

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.


No one ever WANTS to get a migraine. Regardless, 38 million people in the United States suffer from them. A startling 2-3 million people who suffer from migraine pain have them on a chronic basis. This begs the question, is there actually a safe, effective migraine treatment out there? And can it help with other types of pain we experience?

A Miracle Cure for Migraines? How to Tackle Your Tough Migraine Pain & Start Living Again! Learn how to safely and effectively tackle migraine pain with this migraine treatment that has zero side effects. It's also useful for other types of pain including pain from multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and tension headaches.

In Search of a Migraine Treatment Free of Side Effects

Recently I was over at my neighbors house sharing (“testing”) some of my new creations with him. Inevitably we always ask how the other is doing. Sometimes this questions leads into the delight of being able to say we’re having a mostly pain free week. Mike was in a motorcycle accident years ago. He actually broke his neck in that accident. And as with most traumatic accidents, both some of the damage as well as the pain has followed him throughout this life.

However, like me, Mike didn’t want to yield to conventional medications. With the epidemic that has developed with the use of overprescribing pain killers, I don’t blame him. I refuse to use them as well; instead seeking natural supplements and therapies to find relief for my fibromyalgia.

I had previously discussed my trials with using CBD oil to tackle my fibromyalgia pain. Mike, on the other hand, had mentioned to me about a device that worked so well that even his doctors were impressed. They simply couldn’t wrap their heads around how he was up walking around, much less that he was capable of working. I’d dismissed his recommendation of this device at the time however. And until my most recent visit  with Mike, I’d forgotten about it entirely.

During my most recent conversation with Mike, I happened to mention how I was recovering from several weeks worth of chronic tension headaches. In turn, this conversation led back to Mike’s revelation of his “miracle” device.

When Mike was around 17, he started developing migraines. If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, then you know just how excruciating they can be. Not only are migraines painful, they also leave you extremely sensitive to light and noise. Many times, they also leave you unable to function normally.

Unlike non-migraine headaches, over-the-counter pain medications typically have little if any effect on a migraine. Mike’s migraines left him sitting quietly in the dark for hours before the pain would start to subside. Other times they’d drag on for days. This of course interrupted his daily life and activities. Later in life, after his motorcycle accident, Mike had another chronic pain issue added on top of his migraines.

The best natural migraine treatment! Lean how an electric acupuncture pen can work as a safe and effective migraine treatment for migraine relief. The electric acupuncture pen can also help to reduce, manage or dissipate other types of chronic pain. While a miracle cure, the electric acupuncture pen can offer positive impact on your life. Not only as an effective migraine treatment, but also for chronic pain from an injury, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and tension headaches.

Effective Migraine Treatment from One Little Device

Refusing to settle for a life of daily pain, Mike decided to try alternative therapies. This led to his discovery of the electric acupuncture pen – his “miracle” migraine treatment. Mike told me that our local private hospital used a similar device to provide treatment to migraine sufferers. They charge $276 for the privilege of receiving this treatment. All from a device consumers can buy for less than $10.

The electric acupuncture pen works in a similar way to traditional acupuncture. However, instead of using needles inserted into certain acupressure points of the body, this pen uses electrical pulses. While not a miracle cure, this device does offer safe, effective pain relief without any negative side effects. An effective migraine treatment, the electric acupuncture pen also works on pain from other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and tension headaches.

Whenever Mike would get a migraine, he would use his electric acupuncture pen as a migraine treatment. He would apply the pen to his head where the pain was located. And, as he describes it, he could feel his migraine pain “pulling away” from his body. Within 2-3 minutes, Mike’s migraine would be completely gone.  After consistent use of this acupuncture technique, Mike stopped having migraines completely. In fact, after being plagued by migraines for well over twenty years, Mike’s been migraine free for the past five years.  

Mike let me try out his electric acupuncture pen while I was over for a visit. Having tried acupuncture for my fibromyalgia previously, I was aware of the benefits of traditional acupuncture. So I was delighted to give it a try. Mike uses the acupuncture pen on the 3 setting. However, I found that a bit too “jolting” for me. The first setting however was perfect. Therefore, if you do give this pen a try, I recommend starting at the lowest setting first.

I used the device on my hand where I’d been having a lot of pain lately. Sometimes my hands ache so badly I feel nauseous. It’s rare that I can write using a pen for any length of time. In fact, I bought a Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader at one point because my hands would cramp when I would try to hold a book open. Drawing? Well it’s completely out of the question these days. It’s also part of the reason I turned my creativity to soapmaking. Point being, the electric acupuncture pen actually worked at relieving the pain in my hands I’ve had since college.

While Mike no longer needs to use his acupuncture pen for migraine treatment, he continues to use his electric acupuncture pen for his back pain – a side effect of disc damage from when he broke his neck. He carries it with him to work in his pocket everyday. If he starts to experience any pain, or even like he might have a headache coming on, he’ll use the pen right away. The pain disappears and a headache never forms.

Have you ever been to an acupuncturist or tried an electric acupuncture pen? I’d love to hear your own personal experiences. So be sure to share them in the comments. If you’d like to try the electric acupuncture pen for yourself, you can buy it online via Amazon with free shipping.

For more safe and holistic remedies you can try at home, be sure to follow Soap Deli News on PinterestG+FacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram. Alternately, you can also subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

This article is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Information on products mentioned are based on my own personal experience and have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a physician prior to making any changes that may impact your health.


Natural Headache Relief Remedies for Tension Headaches

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.


If you’ve ever had a headache so bad you couldn’t function, you aren’t alone. Approximately 45 million Americans suffer from headaches every year. That’s literally one in six people. More important to note, is that women suffer from headaches more than men. So just what is causing all these headaches? And are there natural headache relief remedies that actually work?

Best natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches. As someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, tension headaches are often a part of life - sometimes on a daily basis. So what are some of the best natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches that actually work? Learn more on how to tackle your tough headache pain with this collection of home remedies along with the story behind how tension headaches form.

I get headaches at least once a month. It’s kind of par for the course. Living with fibromyalgia is not always easy, but it is manageable. And managing frequent headaches is just part of that process. Typically I get a visual migraine when my body is going through hormone changes due to my monthly cycle. However, I get tension headaches a lot more often. And they can be brutal.

As I’m writing this in fact, I’ve been in the midst of a chronic tension headache that’s going on it’s third week. While it’s eased up and actually responds to medication at this point, I’m still struggling to not only find relief but to make it disappear. Because let’s face it, pain affects your quality of life.

What are tension headaches?

The most common headaches that women get are tension headaches. Typically caused by stress and tension in the back and neck, these headaches result in a dull pain, pressure and tightness either in the back of the head or around the forehead. Tension headaches usually start gradually, worsening throughout the day. While they don’t interfere with vision and balance in the way that migraines do, they can last for long periods of time, for days and even weeks. So while a normal tension headache doesn’t generally disrupt daily activities, a chronic headache can, and often does interfere in other ways.

I find that chronic tension headaches are particularly tasking on my emotional well being. As they can cause disrupted sleep as well as intense pain, any type of chronic pain will wear on one’s constitution. This can lead to irritability, tiredness, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, muscle aches and mild sensitivity to light or noise in addition to the pain. Typically tension headaches will last anywhere from a half hour to several days. When this happens, these headaches are called episodic tension headaches. Episodic tension headaches last fifteen days or less. However, tension headaches that last beyond this time frame are referred to as chronic tension headaches.

Up to 80% of adults in the United States will have a tension headache at some point in their lives. While approximately 3% of the population will experience chronic daily tension headaches. As women, we are twice as likely to experience tension headaches than men.

I think, that as women, we are expected to handle more emotional weight than men. Combined with the stressors involved with raising a family, working and constant hormone changes throughout our lives, we, as women, often take on more than we can handle either by necessity or a sense of duty. In turn, this has consequences on both our emotional and physical well being. As such, tension headaches are one of the ways our bodies respond to overwhelming stress.

How to reduce your chance of developing a tension headache.

Because tension headaches are caused by stress, you can reduce your chances of developing a tension headache by avoiding the triggers that cause them. Typical triggers that cause the muscle tension that leads to tension headaches include anxiety, not getting enough rest, poor posture, anxiety, fatigue and hunger as well as low levels of iron. You can also develop tension headaches from overuse of certain medications.

As someone with fibromyalgia, muscle tension is often a daily part of my life in addition to chronic pain. Therefore those of us who have fibromyalgia often experience tension headaches on a regular, if not chronic, basis. Through my own personal experience, I’ve found that my chronic headaches often go hand-in-hand with fibro fog – a condition that is demonstrated by decreased energy levels, fatigue and difficulty thinking clearly.

Natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches. As someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, tension headaches are often a part of life - sometimes on a daily basis. So what are some of the best natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches that actually work? Learn more on how to tackle your tough headache pain with this collection of home remedies along with the story behind how tension headaches form.

Natural Headache Relief Remedies for Tension Headaches

For those of us who also experience migraines, you are likely aware that taking magnesium supplements can help to thwart migraines from presenting. However there is little evidence that magnesium has an effect on tension headaches. So what natural headache relief remedies do work for tension headaches?

The typical treatment for a tension headache is often over the counter medication. However, as mentioned earlier, frequent use of over the counter medication to treat tension headaches – such as Advil or Tylenol – can lead to rebound headaches. Additionally, over the counter pain medications have their own set of side effects. Overuse of ibuprofen can cause upset stomach while acetaminophen is terrible for your liver. So while your first instinct for treating your tension headache may be to grab a bottle of over the counter pain medication, your body will experience fewer side effects by instead turning to one of these natural headache relief remedies.

Natural Headache Relief Remedy: Stress Management

Learning how to better manage stress in your life can help you avoid tension headaches in the future. Just as reducing the stress you’re under, can ease a tension headache that’s already in play. Try learning relaxation techniques, such as meditation, to calm your mind and ease muscle tension in your body. You should also try to get an adequate amount of sleep each night in addition to getting regular exercise and trying to avoid triggers wherever possible.

Natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches. As someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, tension headaches are often a part of life - sometimes on a daily basis. So what are some of the best natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches that actually work? Learn more on how to tackle your tough headache pain with this collection of home remedies along with the story behind how tension headaches form.

Natural Headache Relief Remedy: Acupuncture

For many people, acupuncture is another option for a natural headache relief remedy. Acupuncture is beneficial at not only reducing and treating pain, it can also reduce stress. Back when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I explored acupuncture as a natural method to bring my pain levels under control. Not only did I find acupuncture beneficial for reducing my pain, it also helped me to relax and ease a large portion of the tension in my body. (You can read about my early experiences with acupuncture here.)

Natural Headache Relief Remedy: Biofeedback

Biofeedback allows you to track your body’s activities on a screen. So you are able to learn how your body responds to certain stimuli. Through this, it’s believed that you can be taught how to gain control over things your body normally handles automatically. There is data that supports biofeedback as a credible solution to treating tension headaches. Specifically, when used in conjunction with relaxation, one study shows that tension headaches were reduced by 50%.

What biofeedback does in basically monitor tension in your neck, jaw, and temples. Through biofeedback you can then learn how to relax those areas. If biofeedback isn’t an option for you, simple breathing exercises that relax the body may also offer significant benefit.

Natural Headache Relief Remedy: Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is another natural headache relief alternative. There is some evidence that suggests applying peppermint essential oil to your forehead and temples is as effective as taking two extra strength Tylenol. While research still needs to be done to confirm this with absolute certainty, the cooling effect of applying peppermint oil along your hairline can help to relax the muscles in your face and neck.

Tension Headache Relief Massage Oil Recipe

To make a simple tension headache relief massage oil for your neck, back and shoulders, combine 1/4 cup sweet almond oil with 8 drops of lavender essential oil, 5 drops peppermint essential oil and 2 drops of chamomile essential oil. Combine the ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well prior to each use.

Tension Headache Relief Pillow

To make a tension headache relief pillow, cut two pieces of linen down to 10″ x 4″ pieces. Sew the two pieces together, leaving one end open, to fill with herbs. (Alternately, you can also use Aleene’s OK To Wash-It glue.) Fill your pillow with a mix of 1/2 part flax seeds, 1 part dried peppermint leaf, 1 part dried lavender buds and 1 part dried chamomile flowers. If desired, you can also add six drops each of lavender and peppermint essential oils. Then sew up the end of the pillow. Use the pillow either warm or cold as needed.

Natural Headache Relief Roller Bottle

You can also make a natural headache relief essential oil roller bottle blend. Combine 1 oz. of either magnesium oil or fractionated coconut oil with 10 drops of peppermint essential oil, 5 drops of frankincense essential oil, 10 drops of lavender essential oil and 10 drops of chamomile essential oil. Remove the roller ball and stop from a 1 oz. roller bottle. Add the essential oils to the roller bottle first. Then follow with either magnesium oil or fractionated coconut oil. Place the roller ball and stop back onto the bottle, then shake well to combine. Roll the oil onto your neck, shoulders and back as needed.

Tension Headache Aromatherapy Roller Bottle Blend

You can also apply a targeted essential oil blend to your temples, above your eyebrows and at the base of your neck. To make an aromatherapy roller bottle for your tension headaches, fill an empty 10 mL roller bottle with 10 drops peppermint essential oil, 6 drops lavender essential oil and 5 drops frankincense essential oil. Then fill the remainder of the bottle with fractionated coconut oil or another neutral scented carrier oil. Shake to mix then apply as needed at the onset of symptoms.

Natural Headache Relief Support: B-Complex Vitamins

While B-complex vitamins may not actually ease a tension headache, studies show that taking a vitamin B-complex can help to lower the stress levels that lead to the development of tension headaches.

Natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches. As someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, tension headaches are often a part of life - sometimes on a daily basis. So what are some of the best natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches that actually work? Learn more on how to tackle your tough headache pain with this collection of home remedies along with the story behind how tension headaches form.

Natural Headache Relief Support: Detox Bath

Detox baths not only help to rid the body of toxins, they can also help to ease tension. A simple way to create a natural detox bath is to add either one cup of baking soda or one cup of Epsom salt to warm, running bath water. You can add any of the essential oils mentioned previously for their aromatherapeutic benefits as desired.

I recommend trying peppermint essential oillavender essential oilfrankincense essential oil, lemongrass essential oil or sandalwood essential oil – or your favorite calming or cooling essential oil blend. You may also find my pain relief bath bombs recipe with peppermint essential oil especially soothing.

Alternately, Spark Naturals sells an LXR – Anxiety Essential Oil Blend that I highly recommend. This proprietary blend of Lavender, Spruce, Rosewood, Blue Chamomile, Frankincense, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood and Vanilla help to ease the suffering of anxiety, depression and emotional stress. This blend would work great both in the bath or in a roller bottle with a carrier oil. (Buy it here.)

Natural Headache Relief Remedy: Pain Relief Salves

Another natural headache relief remedy for tension headaches is Tiger Balm, or another similar product. This herbal ointment is made with natural ingredients like peppermint and camphor essential oils. It can be used in the same way as a natural headache relief roller bottle with peppermint essential oil. Simply apply the product to your areas of pain such as the back of your head and neck or your forehead for a cooling sensation. Or try my cooling natural sore muscle salt scrub recipe.

You can also make your own tension headache salve with just two simple ingredients. Simply combine Spark Naturals Base Salve with their LXR – Anxiety Essential Oil Blend to desired strength to ease tension and stress.

Organic Cayenne Pain Salve from Finn Naturals. This organic cayenne salve is all natural and handmade by me. It is wonderful for soothing sore, tender muscles. It is also helpful for arthritis, headaches, back pain, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, neuropathy and other types of chronic pain. It gently warms and stimulates circulation as you apply it.

Alternately, a cayenne sore muscle salve is another effective remedy. When used to massage tight areas in your back, shoulders and neck, a cayenne pain relief salve eases tension and relaxes the muscles that led to your tension headache in the first place.

You can find a great collection of natural home remedies here or try Finn Naturals All Natural Organic Cayenne Salve. Their organic cayenne pain salve is all natural and handmade. It is helpful for arthritis, headaches, back pain, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, neuropathy and other types of chronic pain. Or, if like me you also suffer from fibromyalgia, you may find the Fibro Survival Deluxe Set or the Fibro Flare Pain Elixir from Botanical Delight especially suited to your specialized needs.

Cayenne Pain Relief Salve Recipes

You can also make your own natural, warming pain relief salves to ease tension headaches. Following are a few recipes you can try.

Natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches. As someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, tension headaches are often a part of life - sometimes on a daily basis. So what are some of the best natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches that actually work? Learn more on how to tackle your tough headache pain with this collection of home remedies along with the story behind how tension headaches form.

Natural Headache Relief Remedy: Hot or Cold Compresses

When I first got my tension headache, it was pretty brutal. By the third day it was unbearable. I was practically in tears and I wasn’t sleeping. Over the counter medication had absolutely no effect on it. So, like you, I googled for natural headache relief remedies for tension headaches. This was one of the first options that popped up for naturally treating tension headaches that didn’t require any special products.

I tried a cold compress on the lower back of my head first. It worked ok at relieving some of the pain. So I tried a warm compress next. Basically I just used a heating pad along the back of my head, neck and back. It really relieved my tension headache enough that I was able to feel like I could function again.

If you don’t have a heating pad, you can heat up a damp towel or cloth in the microwave for the same purpose. Just be sure it’s not too hot. You don’t want to accidentally burn your skin.

Natural Headache Relief Remedy: Moving & Stretching

Those of us who spend long hours working at a desk, or even window shopping for soapmaking supplies online (wink wink,) are especially prone to tension headaches. Even if you aren’t bending and hunching over your keyboard 24/7, your back, shoulders and neck can still develop a lot of tension from sitting in the same position all day.

Regardless of whether or not you have a desk job, you really should be up and exercising whenever possible. When I worked for another company, I used to do push ups in my office to help relieve the tension in my back and shoulders. Not only did it ease the muscle tension, it helped with the fibro as well. I also did a lot of stretching while sitting at my desk. During lunch breaks, I would lap the warehouse where our offices were located. It these things are prohibitive to you, simply moving your head in a circular motion does wonders for relieving the built up stress that leads to tension headaches.

Now that I work at home I try to get up and walk around more often. Some days – well on good days – I turn on my favorite playlist and shake my butt a bit. Kind of that, dance like no one is watching sort of thing. Not only does it lift my mood, but it releases tension as well. Ideally, you should be taking a quick break to stretch every 30 to 60 minutes. Dancing is optional, but highly recommended.

In the same realm of thought, yoga is also a wonderful way to relieve both tension and stress. Not only does it help to loosen your muscles, it also improves respiration, vitality and muscle strength. Simple basic yoga poses such as downward facing dog and the child’s pose are both easy ways to fend off a tension headache.

Natural Headache Relief Support: Put Down That Device!

Looking down at your smartphone for extended periods of time puts a LOT of pressure on your neck. In fact, it’s an extra 20-30 lbs. of pressure! Insane, right? And, I mean, do you really don’t need to spend 40 minutes playing Angry Birds Match just because you won unlimited lives. Likewise you’ll also probably want to hold off on giving yourself that new pedicure. Why not get one done professionally and enjoy some self care instead? That said, take breaks from your smartphone already! There’s an entire world out there just waiting for you to enjoy it!

When Natural Headache Relief Remedies Just Don’t Work

Sometimes natural headache relief remedies just don’t work. I tried a natural remedy because over the counter medication just wasn’t doing anything for my tension headache. While warm heat relieved the pain enough so it was bearable, it wasn’t working as a long term solution.

Having fibromyalgia makes my symptoms a little trickier to treat. (I once felt like I’d pulled a muscle for two weeks just from pulling my shirt off up and over my head!) I’m experiencing an insane amount of stress right now. I’m worried about making it as a self-employed writer. I have a lot of debt. I lost my health insurance. And my ex and I got the ball rolling on the whole divorce thing last week. (Only a few more weeks til it’s done.) And then there’s the chronic pain. So I made a really tough decision for myself. I went back on SSRI’s to treat my anxiety.

If you’ve followed my blog or even my social media channels for a long time, then you probably know that I have worked really hard to make lifestyle and nutrition changes to come off of all the prescription medications used to treat my fibromyalgia. The tramadol and the Lyrica were the first to go – and one of the best decisions of my life.

A while back I started taking an incredibly low dose of Celexa. My anxiety was high and I had a lot of tension. Muscle relaxers didn’t help with the tension and I ended up with TMJ. I’d moved out of my apartment into another town to escape some terrible upstairs neighbors who would scream at one another until three in the morning and abused their dog.

I was commuting a much longer distance back and forth to work (which especially sucks with fibro) and I was starting to have panic attacks while driving. The long stretch of road I had to commute down to get to my day job in Roanoke had multiple accidents a day. They actually put a sign up warning drivers to slow down. Over 400 people a year die on that road.

Once I was taking 20mg of Celexa for about two or three weeks, my jaw tension disappeared completely. I moved back to Roanoke. I impulsively got married. Six months later we split and I’ve been living with my best friend ever since. I started therapy. And then I weaned myself off of the SSRI completely. Since then I’ve been working on discontinuing my use of muscle relaxers entirely. I’ve tried a plethora of herbal supplements including skullcap and passionflower (which helps some) and CBD oil.

The CBD oil was by far the best substitute for the Flexeril’s – a muscle relaxer that helps with both muscle spasms and tension as well as some pain. As it’s not recommended you take flexeril for long periods of time, this was the last prescription medication I was holding onto. However, CBD is not at all an affordable option for me at the daily amount and dosage that I’d need to stop my medication. Which is a shame because it offers so many other health benefits. Plus it’s pretty miraculous at calming anxiety. (Coming from the girl who used to have agoraphobia.)

So, for me to have to admit to myself, that short term I needed to start taking the Celexa again – it was hard. I didn’t want to. At the same time however, I couldn’t function. So, despite my desire to be free of medications once and for all, I still have a little ways to go. I’m okay with that though because I know that one day I will get there.

While modern SSRI’s are not believed to be as effective at treating tension headaches as a tricyclic antidepressant, there is some evidence that, based on the individual’s situation, they can offer some relief. As much of my tension headache was coming from both stress and anxiety – I can be a chronic worrier – in addition to muscle tension, the Celexa has offered significant relief. It’s also within my budget.

A 30-day dose of just 20mg of (generic) citrolopram only costs $17. Whereas the amount and dosage of CBD I needed runs $140 per month at minimum, assuming I have no bad days. This is both frustrating and infuriating at the same time. That there are natural, healthier alternatives to modern pharmaceuticals out there that aren’t within the reach of so many who are in chronic pain. However that is another kettle of fish entirely.

While I am still having rebound headaches – they have not gone away entirely – I am feeling and functioning significantly better than I was before.

If you are experiencing chronic headaches, there could be an underlying medical condition. So please see a doctor if your headaches persist. I know my headaches are tension headaches. I’ve had CAT scans in the past, with and without contrast, when I was on my journey to have the fibro diagnosed. However, it’s always best not to gamble with your health and be proactive where you need to be.

If you’ve stuck with me through this entire article, I hope you are able to glean some benefit from the contents. I’d also love for you to share comments on your own personal experiences and successful natural headache relief remedies.

If you enjoy this article, then you may also be interested in my Natural Home Remedies & Herbal Health Care Pinterest board. Or you can explore some of my other natural home remedies here. For more of what Soap Deli News has to offer, be sure to give me a follow on PinterestG+FacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram. Alternately, you can also subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

This article is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Information on products mentioned are based on my own personal experience and have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a physician prior to making any changes that may impact your health.


Acupuncture – My Journey Into Testing the Waters of Eastern Medicine to Treat Fibromyalgia

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.


A Personal Account into Testing the Waters of Eastern Medicine and Using Acupuncture to Treat the Pain of Fibromyalgia

First a little background.

Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not something I’d wish on anyone, but with this diagnosis everything about me suddenly made sense and fell into place.

I’ve literally had symptoms of fibromyalgia since high school. Some days were better than others some were worse. By college I’d get pain so bad it would make me nauseous. It was worse in my hands then because I was a fine arts major and I was constantly using my hands to take notes, paint, draw, and make pottery. There were many times when I had this foreboding sense that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what was wrong. Doctors dismissed the pain. I remember telling a dr. once that I thought I had arthritis only to be told I was too young to have arthritis. I was 25 then.  I suffered much of life with anxiety and depression. I often felt stiff and awkward. I would constantly bump into things and figured it was simply me being clumsy. PMS and menstrual cramps were both brutal for me. I had prolonged headaches for days and sometimes weeks. I either had trouble sleeping or I felt as if I was simply tired all the time regardless of how much sleep I got.

While there is medical documentation that fibromyalgia existed as far back as the 17th century, it wasn’t recognized as a real illness by the American Medical Association until 1987. Prior to 1990 there were no guidelines for treating fibro and many doctors had not heard of it or would not acknowledge it as a real illness. In 1992 the criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia was expanded and refined. However, patients with this illness would go through an average of fifteen different doctors before they were properly diagnosed. 50% of fibro patients are misdiagnosed and many go years before receiving a correct diagnosis. Even with the new attention this illness has received, there are still many doctors who refuse to believe fibromyalgia is a real illness or they simply have no idea what to do with it or how to treat it. For me it took two decades for me to receive a correct diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and treated with SSRI’s off and on. Eventually I developed agoraphobia where I had multiple panic attacks in succession any time I left the house. Eventually I started having panic attacks in my own home as well – in every room in fact except for my bedroom. Luckily it my being stubborn that saved me and I sought a diagnosis to treat the panic attacks that I refused to believe were happening because of “something in my head.”

The medicine for the anxiety and depression – which were actually being caused because the effects of the fibro on my body – led to misdiagnoses. The drugs to treat the anxiety and depression did serve to mask much of the pain, but unfortunately, they also led to side effects of their own that the doctors treated as new or worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety which led to me being misdiagnosed over and over as the drugs stopped working.

When I lost my insurance as a result of my divorce I went off all of the drugs I had been on. Eventually the pain came back and it was worse than ever. I was tested for a number of causes and was also given an ANA ( Antinuclear Antibodies) test. The ANA test is used to help detect and diagnose auto-immune diseases such as lupus. My test was positive which meant testing for everything within that realm basically to see if it was a true positive or a false positive. In the end it was a false positive. I was told I’d always have a false positive test because my brother has lupus. This also means I should be tested on occasion as having a sibling with a lupus puts me at a 50% risk of developing the same disease. I still didn’t have answers. However, I was referred to a rheumatologist who in the end, was the doctor who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.

I finally had my answers. I finally knew what was wrong with me and why I felt the way I did. Unfortunately I was still going to the free clinic – which incidentally isn’t free as you pay a co-pay based on your income – and was seeing an Nurse Practitioner who had doubts and also no clue how to treat fibro or what it really was.

Soon after I was able to start working full time at my job and acquire health insurance through the company which proved to be my second life saver. Since that point I have grown to be not only self sufficient but mentally healthy. I could see a doctor regularly which has greatly improved my quality of life which in turn has allowed me to do more and work more. I can now also recognize the signs my body gives me and treat them accordingly to stave off the depression and anxiety that used to follow due to my lack of information from feelings and pain I couldn’t explain.

Since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia last June, I have gone without any panic attacks or depression for over a year. And that is why being diagnosed with fibro was the best thing that ever happened to me.

What people say.

Unfortunately with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia there also comes a lot of unsolicited advice. Some is helpful and some is not. And some is just completely cruel. There are instances of messages I’ve received that blame the person with the illness for the illness. These type of comments you have to learn to brush off as simply ignorance. The other advice, you learn to take to eventually take with a grain of salt. One, no one really knows what truly causes fibromyalgia. It’s believed to be caused by the brain receiving the wrong signals whereas we feel pressure as pain. Two, no two people with fibromyalgia have exactly the same symptoms or respond the same to identical treatments. Trying to take everyone’s advice is not only impossible, but it could also leave you more frustrated and in turn lead to unnecessary stress.

What I believe is that when it comes to treating this illness, there is no right or wrong answer to treatment. Each individual person has to do what works best for them and that’s not the same for everyone. What works for me may not work for you.

However, if you do have fibromyalgia you may want to try things that have worked for others as it is possible it may work for you. Therefore, while this is a personal subject for me, I will share my experiences. Regardless, don’t let anyone judge you for your choices.

I highly recommend first figuring out what triggers your worst flare ups. It can be foods, stress, hormones or immobility. For me my worst triggers are stress – which I can control – and hormones – which I am able to control only to an extent. To help curb the debilitating headaches that came prior to and during menstruation, I went on birth control. Specifically I opted for an IUD as I’ve had a child and don’t plan to have more. This has helped immensely with the headaches and some of the worst pain that comes right before I start my period. Mostly it’s kept the headaches to a minimum. Secondly, I learned how to manage the stress. Learning how to manage stress goes a long way. I know I literally feel the pain start in one part of my body then extend all the way to my toes if I get overwhelmed or stressed. Therefore avoiding stress or learning how to not let things bother me have helped a whole lot.

Medication is another option. However, I can no longer take SSRI’s – which are shown to lessen the intensity of the pain – as they literally make me feel like I have constant morning sickness. They also changed my personality and would leave me with an “I don’t care” attitude. So they aren’t for me. I do know people with fibro who choose to not medicate at all. For me this isn’t an option as I could simply not manage as a productive member of society if I chose that route. Instead I choose to limit the medications I’m on. I avoid class c (meaning they are addictive) prescription pain killers as they a) leave me with migraines when they wear off, b) they are addictive and c) it’s been shown they can actually cause worsening pain over time with chronic use. Instead, I take a flexeril (a non-addictive muscle relaxer) in the morning and one in the evening or at bedtime. I take 1-2 tramodol (a non-addictive pain reliever for neurological pain) as needed only when the pain is not tolerable or I find my patience growing overly thin. These don’t make me pain free when I’m suffering from a particularly bad flare up, however, they do make it tolerable.

In addition, to help minimize flare ups, I try to walk every single day. Walking everyday – even on bad days – helps so much. I also choose to keep working. It’s been shown that those who work fair better than those who don’t, and personally I was able to go from working part time to working full time and doing the blog/soap almost full time as well. I take days off when things get really bad, but for the most part I work 70-80 hours a week. I never miss a regular work day unless I’m honest to goodness sick. I do take breaks from blogging and crafting if my body just doesn’t want to cooperate. And that is when I catch up on my favorite movies or tv series on Netflix and Hulu. I’ve really had to learn to listen to my body when it’s telling me to slow down, but the main thing is I don’t stop completely. Because not moving is how I ended up in the ER trying to get a diagnosis because I hurt so bad I was in tears. It can be a delicate balance.

Additionally, a good night’s sleep is a must, so if I have trouble sleeping I will take 2-3 melatonin about an hour before I want to go to sleep.

I’ve also recently started having acupuncture treatments. I’m hoping to find the time and motivation for yoga as well, but that one keeps eluding me. I can say that the two semesters I took yoga and walking (yes, walking, it satisfied a PE requirement) in college were the two semesters that I felt physically my best.

What is acupuncture?

 Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine most commonly administered to treat pain. It involves inserting needles into specific points along the body to help balance the flow of energy, also called chi, that is believed to flow through pathways (or meridians) in a person’s body. Acupuncture practitioners believe that inserting these needles along these meridians will re-balance one’s energy flow.

My experience with acupuncture.

I am told that many insurance companies won’t cover acupuncture treatments. I personally don’t know if my insurance company will or not. The clinic I use does not file insurance claims and as my co-pay to see a specialist is $40 per visit, I simply pay out of pocket as it costs me less to do so. I am very lucky to live in an area that offers a community acupuncture clinic. Specifically I go to Roanoke Community Acupuncture which offers both private and community acupuncture sessions. Due to the higher cost of private acupuncture sessions, they also offer community sessions at a reduced cost on a sliding scale between $15-$45 which allows for sessions that are not only more affordable, but also allows for more frequent sessions which are often more beneficial.

Roanoke Community Acupuncture ClinicI was nervous about my first visit as this was all new to me, however the nerves wore off very quickly. I actually fell asleep during my first session and in subsequent sessions I tend to be able to nap as well. The community room has a number of recliners around the room, all covered in sheets with a pillow and a bucket for each chair. The linens are changed after each session with each individual patient and there is soothing instrumental music that plays during the sessions.

When you enter the room, you simply choose an empty chair, then remove your socks, shoes and belongings and place them in the bucket. A licensed practitioner (you are scheduled with) then comes around and addressed your needs for the day. Generally mine is pain whether in a specific area or all over. She then takes notes and maps out where she will be placing the needles. During the first appointment as well as some of the subsequent appointments, she also checks your tongue and pulse. You then recline and the needles are placed in your body. As this is a community room the needles are primarily placed on extremities. For this reason I like to wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt when I go to avoid having to roll any clothing up. However my last visit I also had needles placed on either side of my upper chest and liniment applied to the top of my shoulders as they were particularly painful that session.

Keeping in mind that I feel pain differently than those without fibromyalgia, the needles – which are new sterilized needles in packaging – occasionally some of the needles hurt going in. This generally subsides within a few seconds. Occasionally a needle will bother a bit past that, in which case I ask to have it repositioned slightly. This generally fixes the issue, however, if you find a needle continues to cause pain, you should definitely ask to have it removed as this is not supposed to be a painful experience. I have personally never had to have a needle removed up to this point and several weeks of twice weekly sessions. Once all the needles are placed I simply lay back and relax with my eyes closed. There are pillows and blankets to make sure you are comfortable.

For some of my pain the acupuncture helps immediately. For other types of pain it succeeds in only dulling it a bit. I’ve had a headache disappear within seconds of having five needles placed in my ear, while other headaches simply did not. However, I always feel better coming out than I did going in and the treatment goes a long way towards also calming me overall and reducing any anxiety and stress I may have going in.

After an hour, the needles are removed – sometimes I feel a twinge of pain on removal but nothing more – and they are disposed of in a Sharps container.

The small, negligent amount of pain on the insertion and removal that I sometimes experience is worth the end effect to me. And I doubt that everyone feels the same discomfort since my pain is amplified. Therefore I am continuing to go twice weekly. If my budget allowed I would probably go three times of week every week, though I am scheduled for three days the first week of September since it coincides with the week before I start my period.

Overall, I find my personal acupuncture treatments calming and comforting. Once in there, I completely forget about everyone else around me. I find that the reduced anxiety and stress I get from a session is just as helpful as the amount of pain it dulls no matter how small. And it’s an hour I feel like I have all to myself with nothing to disturb me. At work I find I have more patience in stressful situations which in turn also leads to fewer painful flare ups since stress is one of my biggest triggers. And on the days it reduces my pain dramatically, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

If you have had acupuncture in the past or you are having acupuncture now, I’d love to hear about your own experiences since everyone has a different experience. However, as this topic is personal – both the acupuncture and the illness – any comments that make judgments or are simply aren’t kind will not be published.