Does It Matter Which Side Of The Ear
It might matter which side of the ear you choose for your daith piercing, but its more anecdotal scuttlebutt than scientific evidence. Some people suggest its best to pierce the side where you feel the most intense migraine pain. If you accept the theory that vagus nerve stimulation could help you, then that advice probably makes sense.
Many people who get daith piercings opt to do both sides.
Does Acupuncture For Migraines Help
Another therapy involving needles that has been studied in the treatment of migraines is acupuncture. Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles into specific pressure points in your body based on the condition being treated. Although the exact mechanism by which acupuncture alleviates migraines is unknown, it is thought that it may activate brain pathways responsible for shutting down pain.
Research indicates that acupuncture can be helpful in alleviating migraine pain. In fact, a 2016 systematic review of 22 clinical trials in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found acupuncture to be moderately effective in the treatment of headache disorders such as migraine. But, no such scientific research has been conducted that supports the claims of daith and tragus piercings as viable migraine treatments.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that the relief effects from acupuncture may be due to beliefs and a placebo factor.
Can Ear Piercing Help Migraines
A daith piercing is a type of ear piercing that runs through the fold of cartilage that sits right above your ear canal. This piercing became popular as an alternative remedy for migraines through social media posts and comments on online migraine forums.
There have also been individual reports of people whose migraines improved after getting a daith piercing. One 2017 report showed that a middle-aged man who was unable to get relief from medications had a major reduction in migraines after getting a daith piercing.
Researchers believe that the piercing could potentially help because this area of your ear is connected to the vagus nerve, which carries pain signals to your brain, says Fayyaz Ahmed, MD, a neurologist and honorary professor at Hull York Medical School.
Early studies have found that you can stimulate your own vagus nerve using a handheld device to send an electrical pulse into the side of your neck. This method may help treat migraines, but there’s no evidence that a daith piercing can have the same effect.
Getting a daith piercing in a specific pressure point could theoretically help migraines by continuously stimulating your vagus nerve but it would require an extremely precise placement of the piercing.
The American Migraine Foundation states that a piercing practitioner who isn’t trained in acupuncture probably wouldn’t be able to properly place the daith piercing. And even if the piercing is precise, there’s no guarantee that it would offer relief.
Read Also: Headache That Goes Into Neck
What’s The Connection Between Daith Piercings And Migraines
In a Healthline report, medically reviewed by Seunggu Han, MD, it’s advised that this idea does indeed come from acupuncture, the “ancient Chinese medicine-based approach” to treating various ailments by “triggering specific points on the body with needles,” itself a common treatment for migraines. A daith piercing supposedly activates a pressure point similar to that used during acupuncture treatment.
However, the exact location needs to be specifically identified in order for the treatment to possibly work, so an acupuncturist would have to ensure that, first and foremost, the piercing is going in the right place. Generally, people who have had prior luck treating their migraines with acupuncture may be the most likely to go the piercing route for a more long-term fix.
Can Migraines Be Treated With A Piece Of Jewelry
The big question people are dying to know is if a daith piercing can truly treat migraine and if it holds water. Its common knowledge that acupuncture is known for treating migraines. However, the idea of a daith piercing used for treatment came from the concept that the acupuncture point is located in the same spot as the piercing.
Dr. Will Foster, a known acupuncturist in Tennessee, confirms that it is indeed a pressure point connected with digestive organs in that particular Part of your ear.
The constant pressure coming from the piercing is what causes pain relief. Dr. Foster says that it is only effective if it is accurately done on the exact spot. This cannot be achieved without the supervision of a certified acupuncturist. But, even if there is guidance from an acupuncturist, pain relief is still not guaranteed.
Recommended Reading: Foods To Eat For Headaches
Daith Piercings Come With Several Possible Complications
- infection, which can lead to sepsis, toxic shock syndrome, or removal of infected cartilage *blech*
- ongoing pain or worse migraine symptoms
Did we mention that daith piercings need to be super precise and can be painful AF? So if you decide to go for it, pick your piercer carefully.
Consider the possibility that it wont make a difference. Going through one more failed treatment can be heartbreaking when youre desperate for relief.
How Did The Daith Piercing Affect Migraine Frequency
Just over half of all those who had a daith piercing experienced a reduction in migraine frequency. The remainder stayed the same or got worse. Below is a the breakdown of those who reduced their attacks:
- 15% reduced their attacks by approximately 10-50%.
- 7% of people reduced their attacks by half.
- 24% reduced their attacks by more than half.
- 18% of people experienced a full remission in migraine. i.e. it eliminated their migraine attacks.
The most common response was a reduction by over half in migraine frequency. This group represented 24% of all respondents.
Some people also worsened.
5% of people experienced an increase in migraine frequency since their daith piercing.
Whether this is due to the piercing itself, other factors or a combination was not explored in this survey. See the limitations section below.
Don’t Miss: Medicine For Fever And Headache
Do Daith Piercings Provide Migraine Relief
If someone gets a daith piercing and does feel migraine relief, there is a good chance that it is a placebo effect. There are no studies that confirm daith piercing as a proven treatment option. A 2017 case study, published in Frontiers in Neurology, followed a 54-year-old male patient who found relief from migraines after getting a daith piercing, but the authors do note the placebo effect cannot be ruled out.
If it does help, it is the stimulus applied to the trigeminal and vagal areas of the ear that is speculated to ease pain however, more studies are needed and called for in this case study to determine anything beyond placebo effect for daith piercing to serve as a recommended treatment option for migraines. It hasnt been studied systematically to determine if the benefit from the daith piercing is solely a placebo effect, confirms Dr. Ahmed.
How To Get Headache Relief After A Piercing
If you develop a headache after a new piercing, there are ways you can find relief. But before you begin taking any medication, you should keep a few things in mind.
First, if youre experiencing any bleeding, dont take aspirin or any medications containing aspirin, ibuprofen , or naproxen . Aspirin acts as a blood thinner and may increase bleeding from the piercing site.
Second, you dont want to remove the piercing. Freshly pierced skin or tissue can close up very quickly, and youll have to repeat the piercing if you still want it.
Finally, if the headache persists, speak with your healthcare provider. A mild, temporary headache may occur with a new piercing, but anything severe or that lasts more than 48 hours should be seen by a healthcare provider.
The best treatments for a headache that occurs after a new piercing include:
Also Check: Headaches In Pregnancy 16 Weeks
What Causes A Migraine
The American Migraine Foundation notes that the exact causes of migraines are still unknown. What doctors can help pinpoint, however, are migraine triggers .
combination of genetics with environmental triggers,explains Dr. Zubair Ahmed, MD, a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic. Think of it like other chronic medical conditions like hypertension or diabetes. The pathophysiology includes the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide , a neuropeptide involved much of the signaling that results in migraine pain and other associated symptoms.
There are both medical and lifestyle factors that can trigger a migraine, such as sleep, diet and hydration, which may need to be identified by a specialist. Dr. Ahmed adds that headache specialists can help develop non-pharmacological approachesbut can recommend medication, if necessaryto help prevent and ease migraine symptoms.
Related: Can Migraines Cause Vision Changes?
What Is The Difference Between A Daith Piercing And Acupuncture
Dr. Keith Bell, DACM, LAc, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, clinical director and founder of Oriental Medicine Specialists explains it best when he notes that acupuncture is based on the Chinese medicine model that piercing does not have the same ties to. While some acupuncture for migraines will involve placing needles in the ears, every patient is different and thus, treatment will vary.
Because acupuncture is a modality and based on a whole system of medicine, you have to diagnose the individual, notes Dr. Bell. We can see 20 people with migraines a day and all may have a different reason they are experiencing pain therefore, all 20 have a different treatment plan.
Dr. Bell adds that often acupuncture is just one modality used in treatment and sometimes, other things such as diet and lifestyle will be addressed. The number of treatments will vary based on the cause of pain .
That all being said, Dr. Bell summarizes that acupuncture is different than piercing in that it:
- Releases endorphins
- Changes the area of the brain that perceives pain
- Changes then in the fascial systemthe fascia have electrical impulsesto reduce pain
You May Like: Difference Between Migraine And Tension Headache
Should I Get A Daith Piercing
There are a few things to consider before you get yourself pierced. Daith piercing is higher risk compared to trigger point injections, since it is done on the cartilageunlike muscles in trigger point injections, Dr. Ragneesh says. Cartilage does not have blood vessels, so it is more prone to infection, death of tissue, and increased pain compared to muscles which have blood vessels. Meaning, you could actually cause more issues for yourself vs. getting rid of migraine pain.
If you have migraines and youre interested in having a daith piercing, Dr. Ragneesh recommends talking to your neurologist or primary care physician first, just to be safe. They also should be able to help go through more scientifically proven methods of preventing migraines and reducing your pain.
Ear Piercing For Migraines
Some individuals prefer non-traditional methods for treating their migraine pain. One of these methods involves an ear piercing called a daith piercing that is placed through the smallest fold of cartilage in the ear.2 This fold is located just above the ear canal, and can be difficult to pierce due to its location and small size. Some people report that having a daith piercing has resulted in migraine attacks that are less intense.2
The connection between ear piercings and migraines is rooted in acupuncture. Dr. Will Foster, a Knoxville, TN acupuncturist, has confirmed the existence of a pressure point that is associated with the digestive system in that part of the ear.2 Individuals who use acupuncture to treat their migraines regularly have this area targeted to relieve migraine headaches.3 Those who choose to get a daith piercing believe that the piercings constant compression of that pressure point may permanently relieve pain from migraines.4
Read Also: What Causes Nausea And Headaches
What Evidence Is There That Daith Piercings Work For Migraine
Put simply: no placebo-controlled trials have been carried out to confirm that daith piercing relieves migraine symptoms.
Why does that matter? Because placebo-controlled trials are designed to help us tell the difference between a treatment effect a direct physiological effect on a medical condition and a placebo effect. A placebo effect occurs when people feel better because of the psychological effect that doing something positive can have on their symptoms.
Without a placebo-controlled trial, theres no way of knowing whether a medication or treatment genuinely works, or whether it works because people believe it will work.
Although some people do report that daith piercing has helped them with their migraines, this sort of evidence is called anecdotal i.e. has no scientific backing behind it. Anecdotal evidence of daith piercings relieving migraine symptoms has been reported by individuals online and by researchers, in case studies. A survey of migraine sufferers whove had daith piercings has also been carried out by London Migraine Clinic.
The majority of people who responded to that survey said their symptoms had improved following the piercing, happening less frequently and becoming less severe. But some people didnt notice any change after the piercing, while others reported that the effect of the piercing wore off over time.
After all, its possible that the effects wear off as the piercing heals.
Can A Daith Piercing Help With Migraine Pain
The area of a daith piercing corresponds to an acupuncture point that is targeted to relieve migraine headache pain, says Dr. Natbony.
The theory is that piercing this acupuncture point can provide more permanent pain relief. It has also been suggested that daith piercings might work by stimulating the vagus nerve, which has a branch on the surface of the ear, at the daith. The vagus nerve plays an important role in migraines, she explains. Stimulating the vagus nerve may decrease transmission of pain signals and reduce the excitability of the cerebral cortex of the brain.
However, as Dr. Natbony points out, there are no randomized controlled studies proving efficacy and there is no scientific data showing a reason that daith piercings should work.
Read Also: What Helps With Sinus Headache
Whats A Daith Piercing And What Does It Have To Do With Migraines
Before we get into whether a daith piercing helps with migraines, its a good idea to go over what a daith piercing is.
A daith piercing is a piercing in the place where the cartilage ridge inside your outer ear ends above the opening to your ear canal, the Cleveland Clinic explains. Its basically that little flap that extends from your face over your ear canal.
Seems random that piercing it would impact your migraines, right? But theres a reason why this has been floated out there. In acupuncture, this area is targeted to relieve migraine headache pain, explains Kiran F. Rajneesh MD, director of the Neurological Pain Division at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Trigger point injections can help migraine headaches and other kinds of pain, he says. Daith piercing may share a similar concept.
The thought, according to people who swear by this, is that piercing the spot can permanently get rid of migraines.
Risks Of Migraine Piercings
Getting an ear piercing is a relatively straightforward process these days, especially when you go to a piercing shop that prioritizes sanitation and proper techniques. Still, getting a daith piercing isnt risk-free. The main concern for piercings of any kind, but especially with more complicated ones like daith piercings, is infection.
Infections from a daith piercing can be mild and go away on their own, or they may lead to sepsis and other more severe infections. Before going to get your daith piercing, do research on piercing shops in your area, and look for those that are committed to sanitation and safety.
It may be helpful to ask about which procedures the company uses to prevent infection, and what sort of training the piercing professional has undergone.
Besides infections, piercings can also result in skin problems such as allergic reactions or dermatitis.
Read Also: Can Bad Eyesight Cause Headaches
Do Daith Piercings Actually Work
Dr. Neruker does not recommend daith piercings as a migraine treatment. There is not a ton of scientific evidence that a daith piercing is actually helpful for migraines. The science does not back it up,” she explains. She adds that much of the research conducted on the efficacy of daith piercings for migraine treatment have been through limited case studies that suggest it could be beneficial for some people. “There have not been any big randomized trials or clinical trials to see if it’s efficacious for migraines.”
Moy believes that daith piercings could potentially offer short term migraine relief, but not in the long term. She explains, “There is no scientific research about daith piercings and migraines and whether it would work long term or for everyone, which makes suggesting iffy.”
Although from a clinical point of view, there is not a ton of evidence about the efficacy of daith piercings for migraine relief, there have been anecdotal accounts that it has worked for certain individuals. Brian Keith Thomspon, a piercing expert and owner of Body Electric Tattoo, states that he has personally heard “more positive results than negative ones” regarding how a daith piercing affected his clients’ migraine pain.
Tips For Getting A Daith Piercing
If you decide to move forward with a daith piercing, take our advice:
- Chat with your doctor about alternative migraine treatments and whether this is the best next step for you.
- Research licensed professional piercers in your area.
- Make sure youre on board with the cost of a professional piercing and the energy to follow aftercare instructions.
- Pick which ear to pierce. Some non-medical sources suggest piercing the side where you get most of your migraine to keep the pressure on that point.
Dont rule out conventional migraine solutions. Your doctor can recommend one of these common options:
- over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory meds
- prescriptions like triptans, ergots, steroids, beta-blockers, and even anti-seizure pills
- prescription injectable anti-migraine medications
Also Check: Is It Normal To Have Headaches During Pregnancy