Acupuncture for Headaches
Headaches are only minor ailments if they never happen to you. The throbbing pain of migraines, sinus headaches, tension headaches, and other types of headaches makes it difficult to concentrate, work, or sleep well at night. Acupuncture treats the source of headaches, eases your pain, and may reduce or prevent new headaches.
How Acupuncture Relieves Headache Pain
Inserting acupuncture needles into your skin at strategic locations offers benefits ranging from nausea relief to pain control. Luckily, acupuncture isn't a painful treatment, thanks to the hair-thin needles used by acupuncturists. Most people only notice a mild ache or brief tingling sensation when the needles are inserted.
Acupuncture activates your body's pain relief system and triggers the release of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, hormones that naturally ease pain. This treatment offers an effective way to treat pain, according to several research studies. A meta-analysis and systematic review published in the Journal of Pain concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment for several chronic conditions, including headaches. The review also noted that the positive effects of acupuncture continue after treatments end.
Treatments might change the way your brain reacts to and processes pain, in addition to reducing inflammation. As inflammation decreases, you may notice that you have less pain and fewer headaches.
Acupuncture restores balance to your body by regulating Qi, an internal energy essential for good health. Blockages of Qi can cause or worsen headaches and other painful conditions. Acupuncture treatments remove blockages, allowing Qi to flow through your body unimpeded.
Acupuncture treatments may also:
- Soothe Painful Muscles. Muscles in your shoulders, neck, and head tighten when you have a headache, worsening pain. Acupuncture treatments relax tight, painful muscles, speeding your recovery from your headache.
- Get Your Blood Flowing. Blood flow problems can lead to migraines and other types of headaches. Acupuncture improves blood flow, which may have a positive effect on your headaches.
- Keep Nausea Under Control. If your headaches are accompanied by nausea and vomiting, you'll definitely want to try acupuncture. Treatments calm the part of the brain that controls vomiting, decrease stomach acid secretion, and regulate stomach rhythms.
- Reduce Stress. Do you tend to get headaches when dealing with stressful situations? Stress can be a trigger for both tension headaches and migraines. Reducing stress offers a simple way to prevent your pain. In addition to controlling pain, endorphins and serotonin, also boost your mood and relieve stress.
- Ease Migraine Pain. Acupuncture could help you manage your migraines and reduce the number of days you experience migraines each month. According to a 2020 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Neurology, acupuncture offers a safe alternative to medication and can reduce the frequency of migraines.
Acupuncture offers an effective way to treat any type of headache, including:
- Tension Headaches
- Sinus Headaches
- Cluster Headaches
- Headaches Caused by Eyestrain
- Headaches Caused by Injuries or Conditions (Arthritis, Whiplash, etc.)
Acupuncture Could Reduce Your Reliance on Medication
Acupuncture can help you eliminate or reduce the need to take painkillers. Although headache medications relieve pain, they can cause nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and other side effects. Even drugs that seem harmless, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, have risks. If you rely on ibuprofen or acetaminophen to control your chronic headaches, you may increase your risk of liver or kidney damage if you accidentally take too much of these medications. Acupuncture treats your pain without causing any side effects or harming your health.
Struggling with headache pain? Contact our office to schedule a visit.
The Journal of Pain: Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis, 11/30/2017
Journal of Neurology: Efficacy of Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis: A Trial Sequential Meta-Analysis, 8/24/2020
Harvard Health Publishing: What Kind of Headache Do You Have?
NCBI: Neurology and Therapy: Acupuncture and Its Role in the Treatment of Migraine Headaches, 10/1/2020