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Do Daith piercings really cure migraines?

It started around August.

Facebook friend after Facebook friend started sharing a photo of a woman with a piercing not on her lobe, upper ear or tragus, but on the inner cartilage. The note attached claimed that these piercings are known for helping alleviate migraines.

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“Since I had the piercing done, I’ve had virtually no pain in my head, which was almost constant before,” Washington woman Sheri Utecht told the Daily Mail. “It sounds crazy and I couldn’t quite believe it at first but I read up on it afterwards and apparently this piercing really can help with headaches.”

Her story is one of dozens — if not hundreds — on social media.

I figured it was a new alternative health technique, but it’s actually been around for several thousand years and is based off the principles of acupuncture, which rely on eliminating pain through pressure points. Because accupuncture is one of the treatment methods used for migraines, it’s theorized that the piercing was eventually associated with the treatment over time.

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The problem: There’s nothing more than anecdotal evidence that proves the Daith piercing helps migraines.

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I'm getting this in 2016! #daithpiercing

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“Some people who have received a Daith piercing have coincidentally found improvement with their migraine headaches,” Dr. Thomas Cohn, an interventional pain doctor in Minnesota, wrote on his blog. “The correlation is based on the success for some people with acupuncture in the same region of the Daith piercing.”

The piercings are generally about $50 to $100, depending on the piercing shop.
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“If a person enjoys ear piercing and suffers from frequent headaches, it may be worthwhile to consider getting this spot pierced,” Dr. Cohn added. “… if you suffer migraines and are very unsure whether you want a piercing, trying acupuncture first would be a good alternative to determine if this treatment may be successful. If this is not working, and the migraines are not being well managed, further discussions with your medical practitioner about treatment options is warranted.”

Bottom line: It may work to alleviate migraines for some people, but not others. Migraines, like many sources of pain, are tricky to treat, but don’t give up.

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