Acupuncture and Headache
Acupuncture and headache is a centuries old form of pain reduction developed by the Chinese. For years it was ridiculed in the West as invalid compared to medicines and pills.
Well, things have changed in recent years, and it is now more acceptable to combine Eastern and Western medicine for the best effect in treatment of chronic pain.
The method is to place slim needles at various predetermined sites to stimulate nerve endings. By doing so, the body will release natural opiods to reduce pain levels.
So how about using it for migraine?
The needles are manipulated approximately every five minutes to achieve the maximum effect.
There are two different ways to approach migraines and headaches when it comes to acupuncture. This treatment can be used to treat and acute headache and it can be use for prevention.
Treatment For Acute Headache
When an acupucturist treats an acute headache it is important to realize that migraine and tension type headache may be approached differently. For example, with a migraine, the person is usually in a seated position, while for other conditions they may lie down. As mentioned above, the needles are not placed in the head or neck, as this may cause more vasodilation of arteries in the head and worsen the headache. Sitting up minimizes this problem. At this point a very low frequency electrical stimulation may also be placed on the needles.
Treatment For Chronic Headaache
Eastern medicine has long pointed out that excess stress leads to an imbalance in the system. A more western approach is to examine the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. Japanese researchers have determined that workers under high stress conditions tend to have lower functioning parasympathetic nervous systems. This is the system responsible for controling body functions unconciously (such as bowel function). One of the common problems with excess stress is IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
Putting your system back in balance is a matter of learning how to manage stressors and utilizing stress reduction techniques such as biofeedback and acupuncture. Acupuncture may actually activate the parasympathetic system and allow for relaxation.
Another benefit is that this technique may be also used in chronic headaches and neck pain. This is usually due to musculoskelatal spasming in the neck and the needles place there can relieve the spasms. It is important to know that you might need between 5 and 10 sessions before you see the benefit in terms of your headaches. If you see no change after 10 sessions, you might want to try something else. Read more about acupuncture and headache.
Generally speaking using this form of treatment for headache relief has about a 50% success rate.
In addition to treating migraine headache symptoms, it has been shown to be effective in neck pain and headaches, and therefore could be used if you have cervicogenic headache.
Don't worry if the placement of the needles seems a bit odd. Stimulation of certain nerves does create a feedback system to the brain and can dampen perception of pain through this mechanism. Once you find a skilled practitioner and it helps your migraines, it is worthwhile to continue treatment for several months to get the full benefit in terms of acupuncture and headache.
Return to alternative headache treatments.