Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines
Almost everyone experiences headaches from time to time. When was the last time you had a headache? Almost every day you see someone with a horrible headache. In fact, one of the most common reasons people buy over-the-counter or prescription drugs is headaches and migraines. There can be any number of causes for headaches including vascular issues, tension, injuries, muscle contractions, inflammation, or withdrawal from the consumption of some medications.
Types of Headache
Headaches are classified as primary or secondary. A primary headache is a clinical condition itself, not a symptom caused by another medical condition. A secondary headache is the result of another illness, such as head injuries, sinusitis, brain tumors, dental issues, or allergies.
There are three subcategories in the category of primary headaches–migraines, tension-type, and cervicogenic. The most common is a tension-type headache. These recurrent headaches may last for a few minutes to even days. Although varying in intensity, all three types of headaches are often felt as dull pressure
Migraines and symptoms
Migraines also vary in intensity, from moderate to intense, and usually occur on one side. It often involves a throbbing or pulsating feeling. Any form of activity, noise or light may aggravate it and sometimes may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Some patients also experience neurological symptoms such as aura that develops slowly over the duration of 5 to 20 minutes. Changes in vision and short flashes of light waves can be experienced as well.
Rebound headaches or chronic headaches can occur almost every day. They may feel like tension headaches, or sometimes migraines. If you overuse pain medications, headaches may get worse.
Headaches and Neck Pain
Prominent symptoms of primary headaches are tenderness of cervical muscles and neck pains. Cervicogenic headaches are a less common type of headache that stems from a disorder of the soft tissues of the neck or bony structures of the spinal column.
Some headaches may be signs of serious medical conditions. If you experience a headache after trauma, or if the headache is accompanied by vomiting without nausea, severe dizziness, or high fever, you should seek immediate medical attention..
Acupuncture for headaches
As excessive consumption of pain medications can make headaches worse, acupuncture could serve as a safe and effective alternative treatment for all types of headaches.
An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that headaches were less intense after an acupuncture treatment, and these effects lasted longer even after the treatment. In this 4-week long study, 500 adults were treated with acupuncture who suffered from various types of headaches. After the treatment series, migraine patients reported a decreased duration of the episode. Improvements in the intensity and frequency of the migraines were noted as well.
Another study was conducted by the researchers of Duke University, where 4,000 patients with varying kinds of headaches were examined. 62% of acupuncture patients noted relief in their headaches, in comparison to 45% of patients who took painkillers only.
How acupuncture helps relieve headaches
After the needles were inserted, an instantaneous and marked increase in blood flow to tense muscles was observed. A low-frequency electrical current may be applied to the needles to enhance the effects of acupuncture in helping circulation.
One of the greatest benefits of acupuncture is that it has no side effects, quite unlike over-the-counter medications. Acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces muscle tension.
As emotional stress is a common trigger for headaches and migraines, this type of headache is effectively treated with acupuncture. The constant tension that affects people’s lives is the result of the over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system while the parasympathetic nervous system is restricted. This imbalance directly leads to insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, heart diseases, and even hypertension. Reducing muscular tension and easing emotional stress is the key to preventing and treating migraines.
It is crucial to balance your lifestyle to effectively reduce and cure headaches for good. Therefore, you should:
- Sleep well, from 7 to 8 hours every day
- Stay away from drugs and alcohol
- Refrain from strenuous activities and caffeine
- Clean your diet from foods that induce headaches such as wheat, dairy, corn, spices, and chocolate
- Avoid any migraine triggers from your personal experience
If you or your loved ones suffer from headaches or migraines, acupuncture may be a great option. Contact us to discover more about how acupuncture and herbal medicines can assist you to get on the path to healthy living, without a headache!