Acupuncture for Headaches

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 50 percent of all adults in the United States have suffered from a headache disorder within the past year. Many people experience headaches only occasionally, but for some they can be frequent, or even chronic.

While some headaches may be indicative of further serious medical illness, most headaches fall into one of three common categories — migraine, tension and cluster headaches.

Headaches 101

Migraine headaches are generally associated with one-sided throbbing, commonly including nausea and/or vomiting and sensitivity to light, and they typically worsen with activity. Migraines can last between four hours and three days and can be accompanied by aura or changes in vision.

Tension headaches are the most common form of headache disorder. Many people experience tension headaches as a result of tight neck and scalp muscles, possibly in response to stress. They are experienced as a dull pressure, commonly around the temples or the back of the neck.

Cluster headaches occur in groups, or cycles. They are generally characterized by focused pain on one side of the head and sinus congestion on the same side of the face.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Whether you suffer from chronic tension headaches, severe migraines or occasional headaches, acupuncture can help reduce the frequency and severity of headache disorders. Unlike some forms of traditional Western medicine, acupuncture has virtually no side effects.

Acupuncture can help balance your autonomic nervous system, relax the body and decrease pain sensation. When your body is stressed for prolonged periods of time — due to any number of things, including physical injury, personal stress or traumatic incident — it tends to hyper-activate your sympathetic nervous system. This can cause neck and upper back stiffness or muscle tension, and, commonly, headaches. Reducing the tension is an integral part of preventing and reducing many types of headaches, especially migraines.

Acupuncture Is Only One Part of the Puzzle

Studies have shown that acupuncture can be greatly helpful in reducing headache pain and frequency; however, if you are suffering from persistent headaches, there are some other important lifestyle changes you may want to consider.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep (seven to eight hours a night for most adults)
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Stay energized and active to avoid mental and physical fatigue
  • Eliminate processed foods and others that can trigger migraines (e.g., dairy, sugar, spices, gluten, etc.)

For more information about how acupuncture can help alleviate headache pain, please contact us for an appointment.


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