Using Acupuncture to Treat Chronic Headache Pain
For sufferers of chronic headaches and migraines, their lives are completely disrupted by pain. Headaches can strike at any time, for often unexplained reasons, and chronic pain sufferers develop headaches 15 days — or more — a month.
There are many different types of headaches, including migraines, but the causes are not all well understood, making treatment notoriously difficult. And while there are preventative medicines for migraines, they come with severe side effects. Other types of headaches aren’t preventable through medicine, but similar to migraines, aren’t necessarily treatable through over-the-counter medications either.
Which is why acupuncture can come as such a relief for chronic headache sufferers. A relatively simple procedure, acupuncture has been proven to relieve and even reduce the number of headaches developed, without the side effects of major medication. Below, we’ve put together what you need to know about treating your chronic headache pain through acupuncture:
How does acupuncture work?
Using either micro-current electricity or traditional thin needles, acupuncture targets specific pressure points on the body, stimulating blood flow and circulation, and promoting healing by allowing the body’s “Qi” energy to flow freely again.
How does acupuncture treat chronic headaches?
There are several different types of chronic headaches, including migraines, tension headaches, daily persistent headaches, and hemicrania continua.
For migraines, acupuncturists target pressure points in the lower body, to avoid increasing circulation in the upper body, as migraine pain is theorized to be associated with dilation of the head’s blood vessels.
For all headaches treatment and prevention, acupuncture focuses on reducing stress by increasing blood flow to sore, tense muscles. For types of headaches other than migraines, focus is spent reducing tension in the upper back and neck areas.
Is acupuncture effective for treating headaches?
Acupuncture has been the focus of several recent medical studies, which have proven it to be an effective treatment in relieving headache pain and frequency.
A recent study published by Jama Internal Medicine found, in a 24-week, randomized clinical trial of 249 patients with migraine (without aura), acupuncture “significantly reduced the frequency of migraine attacks.”
Another study performed at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill also found that patients who received acupuncture treatment for twenty weeks, five times a week, saw a reduction in the average number of migraines from 4.8 per month to 3 per month, with no serious side effects.
Especially when compared to the ineffectiveness of over-the-counter medication, and the costs and side effects associated with prescription drugs, acupuncture can prove to be a major relief for your chronic headache pain.
When to seek treatment
Occasional headaches don’t usually require any medical attention. However, you can consider acupuncture as a treatment for headaches if:
- You experience two or more headaches a week
- Most days you find yourself taking a pain reliever for headaches
- You require more than the recommended dosage of over-the-counter pain medication for relief
- Your headache pattern changes and/or your headaches get worse
- The pain from your headaches is disabling, preventing you from driving, working, or doing other daily activities
If you suffer from chronic headache pain and would like to explore treating it with acupuncture, give us a call or make an appointment online today.