How Helpful is a Daith Piercing in Preventing Migraines?

Migraines

Migraines can be a complex condition to live with, especially if it presents with pain, nausea, irritability, and visual disturbances. Daith piercing is one of the growing trends in preventing migraines. These piercings that help with migraines work on the principle of acupuncture and provide symptomatic relief to people who find no better solution to treat this condition.

If you have ever been a victim of migraines, you can testify to how excruciatingly painful these headaches can be. People with migraine often look for cures and treatment options and find none. The most popular remedies that people try are painkillers, supplements, NSAIDs, lifestyle changes, aromatherapy, and yoga. Sometimes patients become desperate enough to try experimental drugs, herbs, or other alternative medicine techniques that have been shown to provide any degree of relief.

Among these remedies, there is a growing trend of using a kind of ear piercing as a preventive measure against migraines. This piercing known as daith piercing has been known to reduce the occurrence of migraine episodes and lessen their symptoms, but there is insufficient medical evidence of its efficacy.

In this article, we discuss what is daith piercing and the effects it may have on migraines.

What Exactly is a Daith Piercing?

A Daith piercing is a cartilage piercing that involves the crux of the ear’s helix. While daith piercing has been used as an esthetic piercing since the 1990s, it is gaining popularity in the general population as an alternative treatment in chronic headaches and migraines.

It is inserted into the toughest and most inner part of the cartilage of your ear, just near the entrance to the ear canal. This flesh holds an essential value in acupuncture pierces as it is believed that stimulating this part can relieve the symptoms of migraines. While not easy to puncture, daith piercing may help with migraines because of vagus nerve modulation.


(a) Patient’s left ear with daith piercing located at the crus of the helix. (B) Shows the possible mechanism of action of daith piercing: a nociceptive sensory stimulus provided by daith piercing activates vagal afferents which, through the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), exert an inhibitory action on neurons in the caudal trigeminal nucleus; vagal activation can also modulate pain perception by means projections from NTS to the locus coeruleus and to the nucleus raphe magnus. 

Source: Cascio Rizzo, Angelo & Paolucci, Matteo & Altavilla, Riccardo & Brunelli, Nicoletta & Assenza, Federica & Altamura, Claudia & Vernieri, Fabrizio. (2017). Daith Piercing in a Case of Chronic Migraine: A Possible Vagal Modulation. Frontiers in Neurology. 8. 624. 10.3389/fneur.2017.00624.

The Relationship Between Daith Piercing and Migraines

Daith piercing and migraines are related to each other primarily through the practice of acupuncture. Acupuncture is a kind of alternative medicine with Chinese roots in which needles are used to trigger some specific points of the body to relieve pain and tension. Inserting needs into these pressure points can be cathartic for the patient and is used in several conditions. Daith piercing is based on the same idea that triggering a specific point in the body can alleviate pain and discomfort.

In terms of migraine, acupuncture makes use of certain pressure points around the ear to treat headaches and migraine. Daith piercing has been gaining popularity since the mid-2010s for the exact reason this traditional Chinese procedure is so well-practiced.

In theory, these pressure points are extremely specific and hard to nail down unless a professional acupuncturist takes a look himself and determines where to enter the piercing. Acupuncture is exceedingly effective, and various studies have been performed regarding its success. However, the proficiency of daith piercing is still questionable.

What Do The Specialists Say?

According to Deena E. Kuruvilla, M.D., neurologist and headache specialist Director of the Westport Headache Institute and executive board member for the Association of Migraine Disorders, tragus piercing helps with migraines using the same principle of acupuncture.

Chris Blatchley, M.D., medical director of the London Migraine Clinic, is a migraine specialist. He explains the process by visualizing the piercing hitting the acupressure point called the vagus nerve, which is responsible for most of the pain signals causing migraine headaches.

Does Daith Piercing Actually Relieve Migraine Headaches?

Daith piercing first originated as a result of cosmetic embellishment. Later, it started showing betterment in symptoms of migraine in patients. Many people argued that the positive impact of daith piercing is due to its placebo effect, making people believe they are experiencing fewer and fewer symptoms. The psychological impact of daith piercing was further strengthened by the fact that the migraine headaches did not completely cease.

The world’s first Daith piercing migraine study aimed to explore the relationship between daith piercing and migraine headaches conducted by Dr. Blatchley in association with the University of Essex. This study was presented to the Association of Migraine disorders recently. Twenty-six participants were chosen to take part in the study. According to the data collected, approximately 40% of the participants experienced a reduction in the symptoms of migraine headaches. These symptoms ranged from pain, visual disturbance, vertigo, brain fog, neck ache, and irritability. Patients reported symptoms of less severity and fewer episodes in time as short as one month.

Among the 26 participants, 40% of the patients enjoyed a short-term relief from the symptomatic condition, while the rest of 20% observed no changes. According to Dr. Blatchley, one of the reasons daith piercing fails to work in some patients is because of the incompetency of the acupuncturist if they fail to hit the precise nerve. In order for daith piercing to be effective, the specific acupressure point needs to be triggered.

Read other blog posts on headaches and migraines

Cons of Daith Piercing

While seldom any studies show that septum piercing helps with migraines, people who are tired of looking for solutions for their migraine are turning to alternative medicine treatments. However, some side effects should be acknowledged before you opt for this technique.

  • Infection near the site of the piercing
  • Swelling of the site
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Development of scars
  • Pain that can last beyond the first day
  • Formation of an abscess if the infection doesn’t resolve
  • Worsening migraine symptoms

Conclusion

In a nutshell, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the benefits of Daith piercing in terms of migraine symptoms. However, we know for sure that triggering the right nerve can boost your chances of getting rid of the excruciating pain associated with migraine. If you are looking for this treatment route for your condition, consider going to a competent acupuncturist or a migraine specialist. These people are more likely to be familiar with the intricate techniques of Daith piercing and may succeed in providing life-long relief to your condition.

FAQs

Which side should you get a daith piercing for migraines?

Some people believe that daith piercing should be done on the same side where the head hurts the most during a migraine. But you can get a daith piercing done in either or both ears.

Do daith piercings actually help migraines?

There is insufficient evidence to say definitively if daith piercing help with migraines. Talk to a competent acupuncturist or a migraine specialist.

Can a daith piercing make migraines worse?

There is a lack of evidence around efficacy or long-term effects of daith piercing. But some literature suggests that daith piercing may make migraine symptoms worse in the long run. In addition, the piercing itself is painful and carries a risk of infection.

How painful is the daith piercing?

A daith piercing may be moderately painful and can take several months to fully heal. Cleaning and taking care of your piercing can help it heal properly.

Is daith or tragus better for migraines?

There is limited evidence for daith piercings or tragus piercing as a migraine treatment, but some people believe that tragus piercings may work in the same way as daith piercing to help relieve migraine pain.

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Qwark

Qwark writing staff is a team of pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and doctors.

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