The Daith Piercing Survey Is Complete!

daith survey completeIf you’ve been following this blog, you probably remember that we’ve been helping Dr. Chris Blatchley collect responses for a study he was conducting on the Daith piercing and vagal nerve stimulation. We’re happy to report that the first report of the findings has been published.

You can find the first report on the role of Daith piercings and vagal nerve stimulation by clicking here. That link will take you to the report, but updated versions of the report can be found on Dr. Blatchley’s main site, which you can get to by clicking here, so be sure to visit the site in the future to see the updated reports.

You Can Still Take The Study

Although the first version of the findings are in, you can still participate in the study if you haven’t taken the survey yet. Remember, this is an updated version of the survey, so even if you completed the survey in the past, you may still be eligible to complete the second version. To take the second version of the daith survey, click here.

Thank you to everyone who helped Dr. Blatchley with his research. He’s informed me that’s he has shared the findings with the British Medical Journal, and he hopes that they will publish the findings. If they are published, it would be the first of its kind research published in a medical journal! He’s also planning to release a full research article in the future based on the second version of the survey.

So please check out the findings, and keep your fingers crossed that they’ll make their way to the BMJ. The more migraines and vagal nerve stimulation are talked about in major medical journals, the more eyeballs we’ll have on the problem, and the more people we’ll have working towards a solution. Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey, and congrats to Dr. Blatchley for finishing the first version of the findings.

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!

Migraine Headaches: Phases, Triggers, & Treatments

migraineMigraine headaches often involve severe pain in one side of the head, and are commonly accompanied by nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound.  These headaches are thought to be vascular with constriction and then expansion of the vessels.  Migraines occur in 28 million Americans, about 12% of the population with a ratio of 3:1 for females to males.

Check out our other posts about headaches:

4 Phases of a Migraine

A migraine attack usually has four phases:

  1. Premonitory symptoms. Symptoms of this phase include fatigue, lack of concentration, yawning, visual changes, neck pain. This phase may last from hours to days.  
  2. Aura. The auras are usually a visual or sensory phenomenon, lasting minutes to an hour. These only occur in a small portion of people with migraines.
  3. Headache. The actual headaches have a gradual onset. First thing in the morning you will start to feel pain on one side of the head. The pain can start dull, then evolve into pulsating pain with jabs and jolts.  90% of sufferers also experience nausea and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells.  Mood and mental awareness changes and neck pain are common.
  4. Postdrome. After the migraine, the postdromal period, involves fatigue, impaired concentration, irritability, and general pain and weakness.

Migraine Triggers

The triggers for migraine headaches are numerous, and are partly dependent on the individual.  All of the following can be triggers:

  • Stress
  • Weather changes
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Menstruation
  • Sleep problems
  • Fasting
  • Certain foods including wine, MSG, nitrates, and aspartame

The correlation to a heart defect called a patent foramina ovale (PFO) is clear, but it is an association, not a cause, and fixing the heart defect sometimes does affect the migraines.  In females, there is a correlation to hormonal changes, but regulating female hormones does not necessarily improve migraines.

Migraine Treatment Options

Migraine treatment includes a variety of medications depending on the severity and frequency of the headaches.  First line medications include anti-inflammatories, combination analgesics like acetaminophen with caffeine, and sometimes nausea and seizure drugs.  If the migraines are more severe but not more than once to twice a week, triptan type medications are often highly effective. The most common has been Imitrex and there are multiple similar drugs available.

Addictive medications like narcotics or benzodiazepines should be avoided since they are likely to cause increasing difficulties in management over time.  When migraines become frequent, twice a week or more, seizure type medications and beta-blocker heart drugs may be effective.  If the headaches become uncontrollable, sometimes intense interventions by Neurologists who just specialize in headache management is necessary.

Migraines & other Headaches

Migraines can also be mixed with other types of headaches, such as pain from the neck like whiplash or TMJ jaw problems.  Treating headaches of mixed origins is often complex and needs a team of specialists and support staff including Neurologists, Pain specialists, physical therapists and psychologists to address the variety of problems these headaches cause.

If one has migraines, and simple treatment is not working, then a Neurologist and sometimes Pain specialists can be of great benefit.  A team approach can often address the variety of factors impacting and contributing to the headaches.