How Does Acupuncture Help Headache Conditions?
Acupuncture is a popular component of traditional Chinese medicine and refers to the practice of inserting thin metallic needles into acupuncture pressure points. These needles are manipulated by electrical stimulation or manually by hand in order to improve overall health and well-being.
This form of treatment aims to balance the flow of Qi, or life force, in your body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, a disturbance in the flow of Qi can lead to pain and disease. Acupuncture for headaches is practiced by inserting needles into the body’s energy pathways in order to correct the flow of Qi, stop your headache symptoms and boost your body’s natural healing power.
From a Western perspective, acupuncture for migraine or headache produces endorphins, increases blood flow, stimulates nerves and muscle tissues and blocks neurotransmitters (and thus pain messages from being delivered to the brain). Since tension headaches can arise from muscle tension, needles can be inserted in tensed muscles in the back and neck to augment blood circulation and provide relief. MRI studies also show that acupuncture for headaches affects neural pathways. Researchers in these studies observed brain activity during acupuncture sessions and noted changes in the limbic system, which affects the perception of pain.
Possible side effects of treatment involving acupuncture for headaches can include:
- Soreness, bleeding or bruising at needle sites
- Feeling of heaviness
- Numbness or tingling
Please also note that you may not be suited for this type of therapy if you have a pacemaker and treatment is performed with mild electrical pulses. Other contraindications to using acupuncture for headaches include blood-related disorders and pregnancy to avoid early labor.
Why Undergo Acupuncture for Headaches?
Chronic headaches can be debilitating. Some headache treatments focus on relieving symptomatic pain rather than addressing the cause. The most common treatment involves over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen, aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, used either alone or in combination. However, these medications can sometimes lead to rebound headaches and can lose their efficacy over time. Furthermore, the use of pharmaceuticals can cause a plethora of undesirable side effects, including nausea, stomach ulcers and digestive issues.
Research shows that acupuncture for headaches is effective at preventing migraines, cluster headaches, sinus headaches and tension headaches, as well as minimizing pain and other symptoms. If you’re looking for a more natural path to treatment, then the acupuncture services could provide you with enhanced and long-lasting pain relief.
Treatment at Adkins Headache Center
Treatments involving acupuncture for headaches start off with a thorough evaluation of your headache condition. Sessions last 30 to 60 minutes each and are repeated until improvement is seen, followed by maintenance therapy. In the case of chronic headaches, periodic treatments in between acute episodes can be effective at preventing headaches, particularly in the case of chronic migraines. Some individuals also report experiencing instant relief during a session.
The goal of acupuncture treatments is to rebalance the flow of Qi. Pressure points are found on the feet and hands in relation to the location of your headache. Other points are addressed in your sessions to target possible headache triggers, including muscle tension and stress. Ear and scalp acupuncture are sometimes included in acupuncture for headaches to further reduce your headache pain. Depending on your specific symptoms, treatments may be performed in a reclining position to avoid blood vessel dilation in the head.
Acupuncture for headaches is usually combined with other types of treatments. We have relationships with acupuncturists and will be happy to make the referral. Acupuncture can accelerate your healing and minimize your dependence on headache medication and may be worth exploring.