Acupuncture and Headaches

Headaches are responsible for substantial health care costs. Although many pharmaceutical medications have been prescribed to treat headaches, substantial numbers of patients continue to have pain.  This has led many to try non-drug approaches to headache, especially Acupuncture.

Headaches fall into three main categories: tension type, migraine and cervicogenic. Tension type headaches are the most frequent.  Patients who endure tension type headaches usually feel mild to moderate pain on both sides of the head. The pain is usually described as tight, stiff or constricting, as if something is being wrapped around your head and squeezed tightly.

While migraines affect far fewer people than tension type headaches and have a much shorter duration, their symptoms are much more severe.  They typically affect women more frequently than men, with pain that usually occurs on one side of the head.  Migraines can be so severe that they can cause loss of appetite, blurred vision, nausea and even vomiting.

Cervicogenic headaches are the most recently diagnosed type of headache.  They may be caused by pain in the neck or spine that is transferred to the head.  Many times, cervicogenic headaches go undiagnosed or (mis)diagnosed as tension type headache.

How Acupuncture treats headaches is by looking at the many variables in order to properly diagnose and successfully treat headaches.  Each individual is treated differently depending on their unique symptoms.  Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables: Is the headache behind our eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head? When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after exercising, etc)?  Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Acupuncture also works very well with cluster headaches, post-traumatic headaches, and headaches that might be due to sinus problems, high blood pressure or sleeping disorders. The greatest advantage of Acupuncture over Western medicine is that it does virtually no harm.  Some pharmaceutical medications can have serious side effects and in some instances can lead to patients experiencing a “rebound” headache. Unlike synthetic drugs, Acupuncture has virtually no side effects.

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