Most migraine sufferers have tried many different treatments, often with little or no success, until they stumble on something that works. That was the case for a British woman, who recently found that her ear piercing relieved her migraines. And she’s not the only one to get these results.
Could this really be a new approach to migraine treatment? Possibly, but there’s been no real study to date on this type of treatment.
The piercing the woman received is a daith piercing, which goes through the crus of the helix, the ear’s innermost fold of cartilage. One theory for why this might work to alleviate migraines is that it functions like acupuncture (which has a spotty record for TMJ treatment and migraines).
Acupuncture alleviates migraines supposedly by stimulating blood flow and the release of natural painkillers in the body, known as endorphins.
Touching a Nerve
Another possible explanation for the efficacy of daith piercings is that they are interacting with certain nerves that play important roles in migraines, such as the trigeminal nerve or the vagus nerve.
The trigeminal nerve is the chief suspect in causing migraines. One branch of the trigeminal nerve, the maxillary, brings sensations from the region of the ear where daith piercing is done, so it’s possible that the piercing changes the way sensations from the trigeminal nerve are experienced. This could interfere with the chain of events that triggers migraines.
But the ear is a complex structure, and the area where daith piercings are done also interact with the vagus nerve. Vagus nerve stimulation has also been investigated for migraine treatment, including the auricular branch, which goes to the ear.
A Miracle Cure? Hardly!
With three potential explanations for the efficacy of daith piercings, it seems like a scientifically credible approach, but we’re still kind of where we began: without evidence that it really works except in a few isolated cases. For a migraine sufferer who is already considering a daith piercing, it seems like a good thing to try, but there is no evidence to suggest that this is something every migraine sufferers should try.
TMJ treatment, on the other hand, should be explored as a treatment option because it has a longstanding record of success. To learn whether TMJ treatment can help your migraines in Denver, please call for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.