Acupuncture Treats Headaches

Millions of individuals suffer from headaches daily.  The typical treatment for headaches consists of over-the-counter or prescription medications, which are not necessarily effective for all patients and can cause serious adverse effects.  For this reason, many people are turning to alternative medicine, as that of acupuncture, to treat their headaches.  Unlike synthetic drugs, acupuncture has virtually no side effects.

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which focuses on stimulating specific points along the body.  It is believed to stimulate the body’s natural painkillers, increase blood flow, stimulate nerves, muscles and tissues.  Acupuncture is one of the oldest methods of healing that has been shown to be an effective method for relieving headaches. acupuncture treats headaches

acupuncture treats headachesThere are two main types of headaches: tension headaches and migraines.  Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches.  They are recurrent headaches that generally cause infrequent mild to moderate pain, and can last anywhere from minutes to days.  Migraine headaches, on the other hand, can be disabling and severe.  Migraine headaches are usually one-sided, and moderate or severe in intensity.  Some patients also experience auras with their migraines.  Auras are neurological symptoms that develops gradually over 5-20 minutes, where the individual may see flashes light or changes in their vision.  Other common features of auras include sensitivity to noise, nausea, vomiting, confusion, vertigo and numbness.

What scientific research shows acupuncture treats headaches?

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or acupuncture, has been used to treat headaches for thousands of years.  Research has shown people with tension headaches or migraines may find acupuncture to be very effective in alleviating their symptoms.  A paper published in April 2016, Acupuncture for Tension-Type Headache, concluded that a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension-type headache.  In another paper published in April 2017, The Long-term Effect of Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis, concluded that acupuncture may be helpful in reducing the frequency of migraines and preventing attacks.  Twenty weeks after receiving treatment at five times a week, patients in the acupuncture group saw a reduction in the average number of migraines from 4.8 times per month to 3 times per month, with no adverse side effects.

What to expect during an acupuncture treatment?

A visit to an acupuncturist will involve an exam and an assessment of the patient’s condition, the insertion of needles, and advice on self care.  Patients are asked to lie either face-up, face-down or their side, depending on where the needless are inserted.  Single-use disposable sterile needles are then inserted.  The needles are extremely fine, however, you may feel a little sting when it is inserted.  The number of needles used will depend on the ailments.  Acupuncture is often recommended at 1-2 sessions per week.  Most course of treatment will consist of up to 12 sessions, each lasting about 30 minutes.

What are the health benefits of acupuncture?

All therapies have benefits and risks.  When performed correctly and safely, there are very few side effects with acupuncture.  Acupuncture treats headaches and many other conditions.  It is effective in controlling some types of pain, may be considered for patients who do not respond to pain medications, and a useful alternative for patients who do not want to take pain medications.  The benefits of acupuncture can extend to a wide variety of conditions, because the goal of acupuncture is to promote and restore the balance of energy within the body.  Book an appointment with Dr. Le to discuss how acupuncture can help you.