What You Need to Know About Acupuncture and Headaches

Many people who suffer from chronic headaches want to know if acupuncture can help them. This is the case for people who get tension headaches, migraines, and everything in between. The reality is that no two headaches are alike, and in Chinese medicine, it’s the unique nature of your particular headaches that help in diagnosing them. For example, the quality of the pain, frequency, location of the pain, changes in body temperature, and whether or not your head feels better being touched are all clues as to the source of your headache.

Some common causes of headaches in Chinese medicine, include:

-Stress and stagnation. Very stressful circumstances or even relief from a great deal of stress can cause a whopper of a headache. In most cases, these headaches are caused by tightness in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. The tightness hampers the circulation in the area, as well as that in your head, causing a classic stress headache. In Chinese medicine, the tightness and hindered circulation is considered to be something called a blockage or stagnation—in that something is not moving as it should be. It’s important to note that stagnation, even in the absence of stress, can cause this kind of headache, such as during cyclic hormonal changes or from high blood pressure.

-Depletion. When you become very run down, your body is short on energy, healthy blood, and nutrients. This shortage is often felt most profoundly in your head, where your brain needs these vital substances to fuel its activity. Headaches caused by depletion typically are frequent, dull, and may be accompanied by fatigue.

-Migraines are in a category all by themselves. Not actually considered a headache, but rather a neurological event, migraines typically go through several stages and are frequently felt on one side of your head. The pain associated with migraines is often described as sharp, stabbing, or throbbing and very painful. Often, people who are suffering from a migraine will feel heat in their head or find that they feel better applying cold to the area. These headaches can be caused by stagnation of blood, as spasms and constriction of the blood vessels in your head are causing your pain. However, in Chinese medicine, if your migraine is accompanied by a hot head or wanting to apply ice, there is also an element of heat rising upward in your body.

While there are many nuances in diagnosis and treatment in Chinese medicine, the above are three patterns that are commonly seen in patients with chronic headaches. It’s also important to note you’re your headache may be caused by a combination of patterns. There are also many other causes for headaches, such as illness, a head injury, hormonal changes, high blood pressure, and withdrawal from caffeine.

Your practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine can determine the exact source of your headache and develop a plan as to how best to treat it. They may use a combination of acupuncture, a Chinese herbal formula specific to your headache, food therapy, and lifestyle changes. The good news is that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can offer very effective treatment for your headache.