Ear acupuncture: my honest opinion on Auricular therapy

Ear acupuncture, auriculotherapy or even auricular therapy:

These three terms refer to a therapeutic technique that is supposed to help alleviate pain and maybe even completely eliminate pain and cure chronic pain causes by stimulating acupressure points located within the human ear..

All the acupressure points of the ear are mapped: each of these acupressure points, properly stimulated with the appropriate needle, helps relieving pain felt in a specific area of the human body.

The above image properly illustrates the concept.

I must clarify that the purpose of this article is not to explain scientifically what is ear acupuncture, but to give my honest opinion on the effectiveness of auriculotherapy, with regard to pain relief (in my case, chronic headaches, chronic tension headaches, chronic neck pain …)

The goal of this article is to share my opinion on ear acupuncture, tell whether auriculotherapy worked for me or not, and describe how an ear acupuncture session happens.

There are dozens of acupressure points shown in the image above (right ear), and as you can probably figure out by yourself, there is an accupressure point for each body part where pain can be felt.
I’m not going to list them all, but the map above illustrates the locations of :

  • acupressure point to alleviate teeth pain
  • acupressure point to alleviate stomach pain
  • acupressure point to treat lumbar pain
  • acupressure point to alleviate shoulder pains
  • acupressure point to alleviate knee pain, ankle pain,wrists pain,…

Basically, every pain that was once expressed by someone on earth came to the ears of Doctor Paul Nogier in the late 50’s, who had the idea of making a map, and place this map in the human ear.

acupuncture de l'oreille carte
Each acupression point location is properly illustrated.

Then tt’s just a matter of following the map & stimulate the related acupressure point with adequate needle to treat the patient: can’t miss, right ?

Why would I make such a fuss about it ?

It’s not the point of this blog post to criticize practitioners, or people who purposely make an appointment for a session with an auriculotherapist.
Ear acupuncture is an alternative therapy like many others: it works or not, depending on whether one believes in its benefits

The thing here, is that in my quest to find a solution to my chronic headaches, tension headaches, constant neck pain & shoulders pain (8 years already), I have tried a lot of things, had all the tests and MRI you can imagine, and I don’t give up: I’m still committed to figure this out before I die (from natural death, I mean).

So I took an appointment with a pain clinic and my first consultation was with a doctor who is also an acupuncturist.

I would never have taken the step of consulting an acupuncturist spontaneously: I don’t believe in acupuncture, but I kind of had to, so I did…

What’s a pain clinic anyway?

Actually, it is not clear … I mean, it depends on the hospitals where you can find one.
The Pain Clinic is a group of doctors specialized in different disciplines, working together on one patient.
This group operates within a hospital.

The patient is received by one of the doctors from the Pain Clinic: this doctor is appointed at the time of the first appointment, according to the recommendations made by the refering doctor , who has written a note allowing the Pain Clinic doctor to get a precise idea of the patient’s conditions, what has already been tried as a preliminary and how the patient has responded (or not).
When several doctors separately can’t find a solution to a problem, it makes sense to think that several experienced doctors working together on a single case can find one..

Hence my decision to try the Pain Clinic.

Consulting with the doctor / acupuncturist

So here I am, at my first consultation, in an hospital.
This new doctor read the note from my usual doctor and asked me about any consultation I had previously with other specialists.

She seemed to perfectly understand the situation and proposed to me to undergo an ear acupuncture session , explaining to me what that was about and insisting that she has had surprisingly amazing results with this therapy. She even told me that she’s had people coming in with debilitating sciatica and walk away as if nothing had happened!

I don’t believe in miracles, but I figured, what the hell: I am here now, and if this what I need to do to have my case being picked up by a team of chronic pain specialists , let’s do this!

Needle in the ear

Ear acupuncture

It took her just a couple of minutes to insert the needles in my ears. They actually look more like nails than needles. They look like piercings.
And I was supposed to keep them there, for as long as they would stay.

And it hurts like hell, for each needles she inserts!

So here I am, lying on the massage table, with a dozen of needles in my right ear and 3 needles in my left ear, waiting for the benefits of ear acupuncture to happen.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to engage the conversation on the areas that give me pain, pointing at them with my finger: I have a pain under my chin, I have a pain down my neck and in my ears, I have a muscle that hurts right above the clavicles, I feel pain at the back of my head, I have pain on the top of my skull … but then I realize she’s not answering any of my questions, as if what I was saying was unrelated to my presence here…

It’s like she’s deaf, every time it comes to giving me a concrete answer

And it’s not like I’m asking for explanations either: I just want to make sure that I’m a the right place to treat my condition, as all.

After about ten minutes of this useless conversation (absolutely incredible!), she slips through a side door explaining that I have to lie down and relax another ten minutes: she’ll be right back. (She actually went to look after another patient in the next room.)

End of consultation

So I ended up with a prescription for Redomex (already tested and invalidated), a prescription for Valium and a magnesium preparation for night cramps.

Quite disturbed about the lack of answers to concrete questions about my pain and quite curious & surprised about this sudden feeling of well-being that, I did not know yet, would soon disappear and make room for the usual pain.

Benefits of ear acupunture (for me)


Something does happen during the first hour, the feeling of “Hey, something’s new here” does occur, but it turns out to be the fact that all those needles in my ears, they hurt and they are just distracting my brain from the usual pain.

It lasts for an hour, like the time it takes to be far enough from the doctor and not make her swallow the needles, pfff, what a load of crap!

I can get the same feeling by pinching my ear with a clothspin and leave it there!…

Conclusion: ear acupuncture, it doesn’t work.

At least as far as I’m concerned.
And that’s ok, I wasn’t expecting it to work anyway: this ear acupuncture session was just a mean to an end.

But I have a problem now, because I don’t see how this Pain Clinic plan can possibly help ? The whole nothing doesn’t make sense any more: she wasn’t listening (!!!!), how is that going to work ?
It’s not the first time I come across a doctor who took the side of specializing in alternative therapy: I had the same bad feeling when I tryied mesotherapy with a doctor.

It’s pretty clear now, that a doctor who specializes in an alternative medicine no longer behaves like a doctor, but like a businessman and more than your health, he or she’s interested in your wallet.

It takes years to become a doctor, and it takes just a few days to specialize in an alternative medicine.
And sadly, it pays off a lot more!

I still can not believe that a doctor tried to make me swallow that some people (who by the way?) came into their office with a sciatica and walked out normally after an ear acupuncture session.

It’s impossible, rude and insulting!

After years of management of this blog and hundreds of testimonials that I’ve read about sciatica, nobody can make me swallow that!

I don’t even understand that the law authorizes this kind of practice for doctors, because one thing is to purposly see an acupuncturist in a private practice, another thing is to be tricked into it, within an hospital, under the cover of such a serious name as The Pain Clinic.

This is just making social security work for the sole benefit of the doctor!

And for the desperate patient who arrives there, and to whom money is taken in exchange for false hopes, how is that not an abuse of weakness ?

This is so wrong…