Surprisingly for patients in the Western world, acupuncture has been used to treat migraines for thousands of years. While there are understandable risks and side effects associated with medication and traditional treatments, acupuncture has no associated side effects at all, which gives patients a sense of hope that, if nothing else, their headaches will not worsen or intensify. The better news, however, is that many migraine patients express a sense of relief after receiving acupuncture treatment, and many more say that continual acupuncture sessions can lessen the intensity and frequency of these intense, painful headaches.
Migraine headache treatment via acupuncture is a bit outside of the norm. Instead of inserting needles gently into areas of the head, as usual for pain relief in acupuncture therapy, increasing blood flow directly to the head and neck can actually make a migraine worse due to circulation. In this regard, acupuncture therapists have come up with a new, innovative option. In the treatment of severe headaches like migraines, therapists focus instead on increasing circulation in the lower body, effectively minimizing the risk of increased dilation of the blood vessels in the head known to make a migraine treatment worse.
While acupuncture for treatment of a migraine currently happening is still being experimented with, acupuncture can be a positive solution to trying to prevent migraines from happening as severely or frequently. Regular acupuncture treatments can decrease overall stress and muscle tension, which can keep migraines at bay. Increasing circulation overall regularly can be an essential aid in keeping migraines away more and more often, giving much-needed relief to people who know the amount of pain a migraine can cause.
Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention:
Emotional stress is a well-known trigger for migraines. People living in a fast-paced city tend to have imbalanced autonomic nervous systems. The parasympathetic (relaxed state) branch is inhibited, and the sympathetic branch (stressed state) is activated. This type of imbalance may be tied to other health conditions such as heart disease, insomnia, hypertension and premenstrual syndrome.
The acupuncture technique used helps to prevent migraines by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and decreasing muscle tension.
Increased muscle tension in the neck and upper back is common in people with migraines; therefore reducing this tension is an integral part of preventing migraines. By finding and treating the most reactive of the 24 major diagnostic points, we can affect an instantaneous increase in blood flow to sore and tense muscles. A low-frequency electrical current (1 Hz) may be added to the needles in order to further enhance blood flow in the muscle tissue.
We also recommend some important lifestyle changes to reduce the incidence of headaches:
Sleep adequately (7-8 hours per day)
Avoid physical or mental fatigue
Avoid alcohol (especially red wine)
Eliminate foods that trigger migraines: dairy, chocolate, spices, wheat and corn
Avoid any triggers that cause your headaches
Types of Headaches
There are a variety of different types of headaches, both primary and secondary. These include the following:
Migraine headaches are usually one-sided, pulsating or throbbing, and moderate or severe in intensity. They can be worsened with activity and may be associated with nausea and/or vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light or noise. Some patients also experience auras, a neurological symptom that develops gradually over 5-20 minutes. The patient may see brief flashes or waves of light, or changes in their vision. Other common features of auras include vertigo, imbalance, confusion and numbness.
HeadacheTension headaches, which occasionally affect most people, are the most common type of headache. They are recurrent headaches, and can last anywhere from minutes to days. These headaches are experienced as a dull pressure, mild or moderate in severity.
Headaches occurring every day or almost every day are referred to as chronic daily headaches or rebound headaches. Sometimes they resemble tension headaches, and at other times, migraines. The overuse of pain medications can result in aggravating headache patterns.
Some headaches may be signs of a serious medical condition. These include headaches after trauma, headaches in the elderly, or headaches with any of the following symptoms:
Vomiting without nausea
Extreme neck pain