Acupuncture for Headaches
Chronic headaches can be a debilitating condition for its sufferers. Most modern treatments are only effective at numbing the symptomatic pain of the headache. The good news is that research shows that acupuncture for headaches is effective at controlling the pain and preventing reoccurrences of headaches.
Headaches are commonly classified by their symptoms into the following categories:
- Migraine Headaches
- Cluster Headaches
- Sinus Headaches
- Tension Headaches
- TMJ Headaches
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of Oriental Medicine that is based upon the concept that health comes from the proper the flow of Qi, or energy, in your body. If this flow of Qi in your body becomes unbalanced, pain and disease can result. By inserting acupuncture needles into specific points along meridians, or energy pathways, the flow of Qi can be corrected. Activating your Qi with acupuncture can stop your headache pain and increase your body’s natural healing abilities.
What Causes Headaches?
In Oriental Medicine, the cause of headaches always begins with some form of internal deficiency. This deficiency can allow the invasion of Wind to create an external condition, where the headache occurs concurrently with a common cold. In other cases, the internal deficiency can lead to an excess Yang energy rising to the head, phlegm accumulation, or blood stasis. Yang Rising headaches are often brought on by stress and occur suddenly. Phelgm accumulation headaches feel dull and occur with mental cloudiness. Blood stasis headaches generally occur at night with a sharp, stabbing pain. Chronic headaches can also occur purely from deficiency of Qi, Blood, or Kidney essence. Deficiency headaches tend to have a dull, empty sensation that feels better with pressure on the head.
Headaches can be a sign of a serious medical condition, so it is important to get a thorough medical diagnosis if you have severe chronic headaches.
Why use Acupuncture?
The most common treatment for chronic headaches is over-the-counter non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen, used individually or in combination. Unfortunately, the use of these pharmaceuticals can lead to unwanted side-effects, such as lethargy, stomach ulcers, constipation, nausea, and shallow breathing. While these medications do provide a temporary relief of headache pain, acupuncture has been clinically shown to provide better, longer-lasting relief from headaches than conventional treatment.
Several medical studies have been conducted showing the effectiveness of acupuncture for headaches and the decreased use of medications for headache by acupuncture recipients. A 2005 German acupuncture study showed acupuncture treatments decreased the number of headaches reported by patients in half verse the control group. Acupuncture is also excellent at treating stress and muscle contraction in the body, which are the primary causes of Migraine, Tension, and TMJ Headaches. A 2003 Acupuncture for Cluster Headache study showed acupuncture treatment provided a complete resolution or reduction in the frequency and severity of cluster headaches, and aided in the reduced use of corticosteroids.
How Can Acupuncture Help Headaches?
While Oriental Medicine does not explicitly explain its theory through neural pathways, acupuncture is very effective for neurological disorders, such as headache pain. Studies conducted with functional MRIs that allowed real-time observation of brain activity during acupuncture showed activation or depression of the limbic system, which alters our perception of pain.
Acupuncture treatment for headaches always includes a through diagnosis of your condition to develop a treatment plan tailored for your health condition and headache symptoms. Depending on the location of your headache, distal acupuncture points on your hands and feet can be needled to affect the flow of Qi though your head to relieve your headache pain. Additional acupuncture points will be included in the treatment to balance your body and supplement your deficiency condition to prevent future headaches. Microsystems of acupuncture, such as auricular ear acupuncture and scalp acupuncture, may be included in the treatment to enhance acupuncture’s effects in treating your headache.
Acupuncture can instantly relieve the pain caused by a headache. In some chronic conditions, it is best to receive acupuncture treatments between acute episodes of headache, especially for migraines headaches. In some cases, periodic acupuncture treatments may be required to prevent future occurrences of headache.
Acupuncture treatment is often combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine. Many of these herbal formulas are highly effective at treating pain and supplementing the body. When acupuncture and herbs are used together, most patients are able to completely refrain from taking headache medications and experience even faster results. Ask your Acupuncturists about receiving Chinese Herbal Medicine to augment your headache treatments.
Finding an Acupuncturist
If you are currently experiencing chronic headaches, receiving a treatment from a qualified Acupuncturist can help. Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for headaches and a variety of other health conditions.
Search for an Acupuncturist in your area!