How Acupuncture Helps Headaches
If you suffer from headaches, you are not alone. Over 50 million of us experience some form of severe headache at some point in our lives. Whether you experience a minor head pain or severe migraines, headaches can take valuable time out of your day and your life, and leave you searching for relief.
One common way people seek relief is by reaching for prescription and over-the-counter medications. Other treatments for severe, chronic headaches involve Botox injections and other invasive forms of therapy. These remedies may work temporarily and can help you ease the pain, but they do not address the root cause(s) and when used over long periods of time can cause unwanted side effects, including addiction to pain-killing drugs.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a safe and effective approach to relieving headache pain without causing harmful side effects. These healing methods provide a comprehensive diagnostic protocol that can help your acupuncturist understand the root cause(s) of your headaches.
There are many factors in TCM theory that may play a key role in the root cause of a headache. These include body/emotional constitution, emotional health, excessive work, social activities and exercise (too much or too little), improper diet, and physical trauma. Headaches are also diagnosed according to specific symptoms (quality of the pain is it dull and achy or sharp and stabbing?), times of occurrence (is there a cyclical nature to the timing?), location (top of head, temples, back of head, one-sided?), and triggers.
Acupuncture and TCM take a holistic, or whole-body approach to your health. Your practitioner will take a detailed health history, and perform a physical exam to determine how and why your body's vital energy, or Qi (pronounced “chee”), is out of balance and identify what type of headache you are experiencing. To determine the most effective care, she will focus on the root causes of the problem.
While every treatment (including any herbal prescriptions) will address the root cause of the headaches, any treatment can also address what is called the “branch” that is, any symptoms you might be experiencing when you come in for your visit. Acupuncture gives us the flexibility to address both the root and the branch at the same time, thus giving you symptom relief and correcting the imbalance that caused the headaches in the first place. And these treatments do not cause any side effects other than improved sleep and digestion, and more resiliency to manage the stress of daily life.
During treatment, in order to restore the body's balance and energy flow, fine sterile needles will be inserted at specific points on the body. Based on your unique symptoms, your acupuncturist will concentrate on acupuncture points related to specific organs/energy channels. Afterward, a variety of self-care techniques may be prescribed to expedite your healing process.
It is important to remember that acupuncture is not a quick fix. Although your acupuncturist can treat symptoms in the moment, it does take time to fully address and correct the underlying imbalance(s) that lead to the headaches. Changes in the root cause(s) may occur quickly or over a longer period of time, depending on your overall constitution and health. It is important to closely follow the care recommendations of your acupuncturist to maximize your healing potential. These recommendations might include tracking your headache triggers, managing stress, exercise, and self-care techniques like eating a healthy diet (customized for you by your practitioner), staying hydrated and getting quality sleep.
Acupuncture is extremely effective in reducing the frequency and severity of many types of painful conditions, including headaches and migraines, naturally. By working with your acupuncturist and adopting some simple lifestyle changes, you will be on your way to a healthier, happier, pain-free life.