Today, acupuncture is one of the most promising of non-traditional headache treatments. Based on traditional Chinese beliefs, this ancient art works by influencing “Qi”, the flow of energy that streams throughout the body. The trained practitioner inserts incredibly fine needles lightly into the skin at specific points along these pathways.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce and even eliminate chronic headache disorders, promoting the secretion of endorphins and natural steroids, decreasing inflammation and pain. Because of its ability to provide pain relief, acupuncture significantly improves the patient’s quality of life, making it possible for them to take part in normal daily activities.
Forms of Headaches
Both traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine acknowledge two categories of headaches – primary and secondary. Primary headaches are clinical conditions, not a manifestation of another disorder. Primary headaches include migraines, tension and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are attributable to other medical conditions including allergies, sinus disease, brain tumors, head injuries and/or dental disorders. Acupuncture CT has been effectively used to treat primary headaches which are also the most common.
These headaches are more common in women and the root cause is not known. Some studies have reported that the possible causes could be spasms and tightening in the skull, neck or shoulder muscles causing inflamed nerves. Symptoms of tension headaches include having a headache along with a tight neck and shoulders. Additional symptoms include a feeling of pressure around the head, over the eyes or in the temples. Tension headache pain, while intense, typically don’t lead to an interruption in daily activities.
This is the second most common headache and varies in pain levels. Migraines are also most common in women and can affect all ages. Common causes of migraines include alcohol, hormones, food, including chocolate and a change in sleep patterns. Symptoms include intense, sharp pain behind an eye, a possible aura effect, nausea and vomiting. Most migraine patients find relief when sleeping or spending time in a dark room.
These headaches are most common in men and are thought to be associated with brain chemistry imbalances. Cluster headaches can be brought on by alcohol, sleep issues, food and smoking. Cluster headache symptoms include the fact that they can last for between 30 and 60 minutes and are intense, occurring in a pattern that goes away for a period of time, followed by a recurrence, typically at the same time of day. Pain usually radiates into the eye and can be accompanied by a feeling of restlessness and the need to pace.
Emotional stress is a common trigger for migraines and several other headaches. People living fast paced lives (and who isn’t these days?) tend to experience imbalanced autonomic nervous systems. The parasympathetic branch, the relaxed state, is restricted and the sympathetic branch, the stressed state, is triggered. This kind of imbalance has been tied to health conditions that include insomnia, heart disease, premenstrual syndrome and hypertension. Acupuncture helps prevent migraines by initiating the parasympathetic nervous system and minimizing muscle tension.
Ridgefield Acupuncture has been using acupuncture to successfully remedy headaches and one of the greatest advantages of this ancient remedy over western medicine is that doesn’t come with the risky side effects that the synthetic drugs that are typically used to treat headaches do.