Early Findings From The Daith Piercing Study

daith piercingAs we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a colleague of mine decided that he wanted to conduct some research on the daith piercing among individuals who have sought out the piercing for migraine relief.

As someone who has written numerous blogs on the subject, I wanted to help spread the word about the study, and of course I am interested in the results. So if you have a daith piercing and you haven’t take the survey yet, please click here to take it!

Daith Piercing Survey

Although the study is still in the collection phase, Dr. Chris Blatchley of the London Migraine Clinic was kind enough to share some of the early findings from the survey. We thought it would be interesting to share some of those findings with you before the results are really broken down and trends are discovered. So below, you’ll see some findings from the early batch of responses to the daith study.

  • The vast majority of respondents have had the piercing for 18 months or fewer. This is likely due to the fact that the daith piercing has only recently gained popularity in the pain care/migraine community.
  • Of the 50 or so respondents who have had migraines for over 10 years and had the daith piercing for over one year, 38 percent reported having migraines most days and only two percent said they had gone a month with one or fewer migraines. Since getting the piercing, only six percent report migraines on most days, and a whopping 69% say their migraines have been reduced to one or fewer a month.
  • The general consensus is that the majority of individuals who underwent the daith piercing procedure for migraine relief showed marked improvement in all modalities, although it is worth nothing that for a small percentage of individuals, their migraines got worse after the piercing.

These early results are interesting, and although this is only a surface level interpretation, we’re intrigued by the results. There are some obvious limitations in that the survey relies not only on self-reporting, but also self-reporting pain levels from years ago. However, the survey is certainly a huge step in the right direction for understanding pain pathways and harnessing the power of the daith piercing for the right patient.

One final thing we hope to glean from the study is a better understanding of the placebo effect on patients who undergo the procedure. Is their pain truly being resolved because it is helping stop the transmission of pain signals, or are people experiencing better results simply because they expect to? It’s a fascinating angle, but when you consider that the placebo effect has not been shown to be as effective in other medical interventions, it certainly seems like there is a credible link between the piercing and migraine relief in some individuals!

We’ll keep tabs on the survey as it continues, and be sure to take the survey if you haven’t yet!

Help Us Learn More About Daith Piercings

daith piercingThe internet is a wonderful thing. Not only has it made it easier for patients to find information, but it has also allowed doctors who would never otherwise meet to connect with one another. The latter recently happened with us.

As we’ve mentioned on the blog before, our posts on daith piercings have far and away been our most popular, which is interesting because the science behind why the piercing may help alleviate headache pain isn’t perfectly clear. However, we are working on changing that. Recently, we were contacted by Dr. Chris Blatchley from across the pond at the London Migraine Clinic. Dr. Blatchley has been helping patients find relief from migraine pain for years, and he has worked closely with a colleague who has performed more than 3,000 daith piercings. He stumbled upon our fascination with the piercing, and combined with his own experience, Dr. Blatchley has decided to try to compile some concrete evidence about why the piercing is effective for some patients.

Daith Piercing Study

To best do this, Dr. Blatchley put together a survey questionnaire on his website London-Migraine-Clinic.co.uk. On his website, he has a link to the survey which he hopes to use to gather responses from individuals who have undergone a daith piercing for pain relief. You can access the survey by clicking the link that will take you to his site, or you can go directly to the survey by clicking the link below.

Daith Piercing Questionnaire

The survey will only take a couple of minutes to complete, but we believe it will be a valuable tool for getting a collection of responses from individuals who have firsthand experience with the piercing and its effects. So please, if you’ve undergone the procedure, take a few minutes to complete the survey and share it with others who have received the piercing. The more we learn about pain pathways, the more pain we can take out of this world!

Thanks,

Dr. Thomas Cohn

Do Daith Piercings Work? Let’s Hear What Patients Have To Say

Daith Piercing MinnesotaThe daith piercing is without a doubt the most talked about subject on my site, which is ironic because I do not perform the procedure myself. My goal as a pain management specialist is to analyze a person’s pain and come up with a variety of solutions to help manage and treat that pain.

I referenced how some people have experienced headache relief by having their daith pierced and, although I’ve mentioned that there is no hard science behind the piercing, I’ve explained how some of the pain pathways may be affected by stimulation.

We’ve been referenced, praised and lambasted on other sites for talking up the piercing, but people continue to ask us questions about the daith piercing. So instead of giving some general answers about why it may or may not work, we though we’d let people who have already undergone the piercing speak about their experience. We’ve collected a bunch of comments from people who have shared their story on our site, and we want to put them in one easy to read place. So below, you can read what people who have undergone the piercing are saying about their experience. We hope you find it enlightening.

People Who Have Had The Daith Piercing

Here is a sample of some of the most recent comments we’ve received about the daith piercing.

I had a daith piercing done (left side) on 9/30/2016. I have not had a migraine since getting this done. I used to have one every day, with several trips to the ER a month. I had tried every medication possible they could prescribe me for them and the only thing that ever really worked for me was going to the ER and doing the IV cocktail thing, which unfortunately there is no script that can be given that works like it. When I got my piercing done I was experiencing a migraine almost to the point of debilitation, the second he preformed the piercing the pressure was relieved, similar effect to pushing the pin in the stem of a tire to let the air out and my vision was no where near as blurry. the next day it was gone with no meds at all. I do still get small headaches but OTC meds knock them right out. My only caution for it is please strictly follow the after care instructions and do your research on the shops that are doing them. Be 100% comfortable with the person doing it for you. Many shops say “oh yes I can do that for you, I have done tons of them” but just because they have done them does not mean they have done them correctly. – D.A.

I just recently had this piercing. I had researched this for several months before deciding and talked to several people that had it done and have had great success. It was really not as painful as everyone makes it sound and took less than 60 seconds. I am very hopeful about this helping with my migraines. – C.S.

I’ve had headaches all day everyday for a long time, so I heard about this piercing and I went and got it done right away, went in with a headache and left pain free, literally! It’s been 3 days now still no pain or headache The piercing site bled a little because I slept on it. Cleaned it up and it’s healing, so very thankful I had it done, I love being pain free. – S. W.

I’ve had headaches for over 20 yrs. Its hurt pretty much every day for years now. Most days its a dull ache but other days they can become quite unbearable. Meds don’t help. I just got my daith piercing today. Before doing it I spent a few weeks massaging the general area so I know that pressure seemed to help, but only while pressure was being applied. I can say this much, I had a pretty bad headache before getting it done, my headache went away, but my ear is quite sore right now. It was quite painful for me, but everyone is different. – R.T.

I had the piercing in both ears it’s been a week now. I’ve not had the headaches but the pain I’m experiencing in my jaw is really bad what did you suggest that I do for the pain. I’m think of taking them out. – B. P.

I suffered chronic migraines and was in my 11th headache day when going in to get this piercing. Immediately upon the needle going through there was a HUGE release. I was getting migraines regularly during my menstral cycle my last cycle passed with NO migraine for the FIRST time in YEARS! I have only had one migraine since the piercing and it could hardly be called a migraine compared to what I was used to. I get them if I eat eggs or chocolate on an empty stomach.. if I skip meals or stay up too late. The last migraine I had was triggered by eggs and the pain was 50% less to 70% less than what i was used to and it only lasted a day and a half compared to the usual 3 days. This piercing helps tremendously and perhaps the acupuncture community could learn something. Also acupuncture does not pierce all the way through the skin.. there are a bundle of nerves penetrated that are deeper into the skin than acupuncture goes. Acupuncture may help some for me it stimulated my headaches and made them worse. The Daith was so helpful and so healing. There are SO many people being helped by this and Thank GOD for whoever noticed the correlation. Hope this helped! Bless! – K.E.

So as you can see, the piercing has worked for some, and not for others. There’s no guarantee that it will work for you, but for individuals who have failed to experience relief from other treatments, it may be an option worth exploring.

Why Difficulty Sleeping Is Like Living With Chronic Pain

chronic pain sleep

Chronic and acute pain often interferes with sleep. Since a third of our lives are spent sleeping or trying to sleep, having an issue getting good sleep can be a major issue. There are many problems that interfere with sleep, and many pain patients have difficulty sleeping. Sleep is similar to pain, in that it is a complex process, and many things can affect our sleep. Sometimes the solution to better sleep is simple, but more often the problem and solutions are complex.  

Why Recent Guidelines on Sleep Fall Short

The latest issue of JAMA came in the mail today and had two articles related to sleep. The first was on chronic insomnia and the new guidelines for its management. The second article was on restless leg syndrome (RLS). The “guidelines” were put out by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and written by primary care physicians and health care administrators. To be valuable, guidelines really need to be written by experts in the field of the guideline, and sleep specialists can be credentialed in Neurology and Internal Medicine with a specialty of Respiratory Medicine. These experts were not the ones to write these guidelines. If a patient wants only entry level advice on sleep, these may be okay, but for those suffering from chronic sleep issues, consulting an expert would serve most patients significantly better. It is shame that leading national organizations like the ACP and JAMA publish minimally useful information.  

Since I have been in practice for a number of years, learning some some of the basic treatment options to improve sleep is not difficult. If a patient is having difficulty sleeping, always start with a good history and physical exam. The history often tells significant information with regards to the nature of the sleep problem. Treating sleep is usually more complex than guessing the right medications. The most important first step is good habits prior to going to sleep. The easy things involve reducing caffeine intake, especially in the afternoons and do not drink it at night. Alcohol also does not help with sleep; it often will wake one up in the middle of the night. Technology is also a horrible actor; the blue light of cellphones and computers as well as television will stimulate people and prevent sleep. Lastly, do not exercise vigorously in the evenings; this also wakes up most people.

Solving Sleep Problems

If a person has addressed the simple sleep issues and they are still having sleep problems, then finding a solution will often require some expert intervention. Since there are many problems that affect sleep, obtaining a medical sleep consult by a specialist is worthwhile. Problems like sleep apnea are often an issue. Finding medical problems that need management can reduce interference with sleep. If nothing is found to be a problem by an expert, then solutions to what seems to be reducing sleep can be initiated. Many people cannot relax enough to go to sleep, and psychological based treatments like mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapy are indicated. Few patients may need some sort of medications, but these need to be closely monitored for side effects.

Most experts have not found that a particular type of bed or pillow makes any significant difference. If I am asked about whether a person should buy a new bed, it is probably only necessary if the current one is totally broken. Pillows are really a matter of personal preference, but they need to keep the neck in a neutral spine position. Usually spending lots of money on beds and pillows is not a good solution for improved sleep.

The patient with chronic pain is often no different from any other patient with sleep difficulties. Correct the simple things with regards to sleep hygiene first. If a person continues to have sleep problems, they should see a sleep specialist who can often help find the most appropriate intervention. Expensive beds and pillows are not usually a good investment. If you need a new bed, buy either a bed with a memory foam type top, or an air adjustable bed so the firmness can be adjusted depending on how you feel. Beds with adjustable frames that raise the head are sometimes good for those with breathing problems at night. Most importantly, good sleep hygiene is the first issue to solve, and if the problems persist, ask to see a sleep expert.

An Update On Daith Piercings

daith migraineI wrote my first article on Daith piercings about a year and a half ago. As many know, this has been advocated for the treatment of headaches. The questions I have been asked since that time have been numerous but the most common question is, “Will it work for me?” I obviously cannot tell if it work for anyone in particular. I have heard from many that it has helped them manage their migraine headaches. Most interesting to me was some of my regular patients have tried it successfully.

Daith Piercing Information

Daith piercings are a specific type of ear piercing. The ear cartilage midline toward the front of the ear is pierced. This type of ear piercing has been around for 3,000 years, but the name “Daith piercing” was probably started in the 1990’s. The placement of the piercing is at the entrance to the ear canal and has symbolic meaning as the “Guardian to the Gate.” This piercing can be quite painful, and since it is through bony cartilage, care must be given to keep the site clean and to prevent infection.

There are many types of headaches, and only certain types of headaches will respond to Daith piercings. Those most likely to improve are migraines that are sensitive to ear stimulation, and likely to be one sided in nature. Daily headaches may be caused be a variety of factors – most common are muscle tension and stress headaches. Muscle tension headaches are caused by neck muscles tightening up, often associated with the position one has while working on a computer. Stress type headaches are caused by psychological factors that make a person anxious.  The most common headache in my practice are those associated with neck problems; either from nerve and disc problems or from the joints in the neck causing pain. These types of headaches are best treated successfully by managing the underlying causes.

Managing Headaches

The headaches that have been managed by Daith piercings are those that are migraine headaches. If you have been diagnosed by a neurologist with definite migraine headache (not self diagnosed), Daith piercings may be a treatment option. Over the last 18 months of studying this subject, an interesting correlation occurred to me that this treatment was similar to acupuncture and vagal nerve stimulation. All these treatments seem to affect the vagal nerve via a branch near the ear, which sends signals back to the brain that may affect various neurotransmitters and hormones that lead to vascular headaches.

Unfortunately, the true scientific proof and medical evidence with regards to Daith piercings is not present. All the results when one researches the topic seem to be stories that it worked for them. There is some basis as noted above why it may work. For those who are interested, a few cautions should be remembered. First, this is specifically going to work best for migraine headaches. If you have frequent and sometimes severe headaches, and they are not easily managed, first see a medical doctor and possibly a neurologist and get a good diagnosis made, and try conventional treatment. The cause should be treated first and may be straight forward to manage. If the headaches are migraines, and they are not responding to management, Daith piercing may be reasonable. Physicians normally do not perform this procedure, so do not ask them to do it. Only get this done by someone who does body piercings and is familiar with this particular one. It is extremely important that meticulous care is performed before and afterwards to keep the area clean and free from infection. Since this is through ear cartilage, near the brain, an infection in the area can be very dangerous and should be treated aggressively by a doctor.

If you want to run a test before piercing, first try massaging the area of the ear when you have a headache and see if that makes a difference. Another possibility is to try acupuncture to see if that works. Most acupuncturists will report what they do is different than the piercing and this is not going to be equal to the piercing, but it may be safer and easier for a test. If you go ahead with a piercing, make sure you try to prevent an infection in the area of the piercing.