Have you been diagnosed with trigger point migraine? Trigger points are areas that refer pain sensation elswhere when pressed. Sometimes points that are tender, but do not refer, are called trigger points, but technically this is not accurate. A better term for these areas of local tenderness is the Chinese term; "ah-shi" point. Trigger points and ah-shi points are often involved in chronic tension and migraine headaches. Often, pains in other parts of the body are also associated with trigger and ah-shi points.
Increasing numbers of Western patients and physicians have discovered the value of acupuncture and Chinese herbalmedicine in the treatment of pain. For more than 2500 years, generations of patients and physicians have depended upon these methods for treating all sorts of pains in the head, including migraine headaches.
Neurologists have recently recognized the value of examining trigger points and tender points on the scalp to assess headache disorders. These points have been described for centuries by those who practice Oriental medicine. Treatment of these points can indeed help some chronic headache disorders, so some physicians think they have discovered a new phenomenon, and have named it "trigger point migraine".
Western physicians can inject drugs or Botox® into the tender points but often, do not understand that there may be other factors involved which are at the root of the cause of these tender points. Only physicians who are trained in Chinese, Japanese, or other forms of acupuncture can diagnose the full range of imbalances which can lead to "trigger point migraines".
Reducing the tenderness of trigger points is one goal of chronic pain treatment. Acupuncture, moxibustion, and other forms of Chinese medicine, including massage, are quite helpful in reducing trigger point tenderness and the associated pain syndromes that result. Injections do have a place in some patients, but these are not generally necessary or even desirable ways to eliminate trigger points. There are considerable adverse effects to steroids and clostridia toxin, and the cost of these drug injections is quite high.
Various trigger point treatments have been found that are just as effective and much safer than injecting Botox® or steroids. In addition to Chinese medical techniques, a modern system of utilizing muscular and spinal reflexes, named "pain neutralization technique" or "P.N.T.", is also very effective and only requires a skilled application of hand or finger pressure at particular places on the body.
I believe that the same inherent healing capabilities of the body are elicited by acupuncture, moxibustion and pain neutralization technique, so there is no reason that these systems cannot be combined. Although these techniques sometimes have to be repeated, the same is true of steroid and Botox® injections. Avoiding drug side effects and providing better results with less expense and discomfort, both acupuncture and P.N.T. should be considered before ordinary trigger point treatments.
Correcting trigger or ah-shi point tenderness can address tension, sinus, migraine and other forms of chronic headaches, and is the preferred method for treating trigger point migraines.
Dr. L.B. Grotte, M.D., was the first physician in Ohio to be board certified in both acupuncture and Chinese herbology. He has studied Oriental medicine since 1972 and has practiced Oriental medicine in Cleveland for more than 28 years. Our small practice specializes in creating individualized treatment plans combining Western and Oriental methods. Call us at 440-461-7488 to make an appointment or visit our website for more information.