Acupuncture for Headaches or Migraine

What can you expect when you come into the clinic with recurrent and chronic pain in the head?

As a TCM practitioner I investigate general causes such as how much tension you may be experiencing from trigger points in the neck and upper body, what drugs/caffeine/or food you consume, how exposed you are to occupational and environmental toxins/chemicals, if there is an underlying or lingering infection, and also your emotional health. Frustration, anger and worry are important elements in ongoing heachache, as is overwork of the mental kind, including sitting at a computer for long hours. This last factor particularly increases postural stresses.

The nature, time and position of the headaches will be discussed to determine what acupuncture protocol will give best results. For example you may have a stabbing pain in the evening or at night in or around the temples, sides of the head or behind the eyes. We will often find referred pain from the jaw, neck and shoulder muscles and points on the acupuncture meridians (eg Gallbladder, Stomach, Small Instestine and Liver).

In Chinese medicine terms, there are two mechanisms of headache production, those associated with deficiency and those with excess. Excess types are more severe and can be debilitating, caused by the obstruction to the circulation of qi and blood by a pathogen, as in a viral flu attack where you are forced to go to bed with a head that feels like it will burst! … Or during extreme stress/rage where, as we say, Liver Yang ascends to the head and gives a pounding, throbbing pain. The deficient type are due to insufficient qi, blood, ying or yang reaching the head, usually mild to moderate and associated with mental and physical fatigue. Mixed deficiency and excess headaches are common however. Chronic headaches can be associated with constitutional imbalances as in migraines which often run in families and start at an early age. This may involve aspects of Kidney ying deficiency and needs a comprehensive program of regular acupuncture and perserverance!

There are a wide range of pharmaceutical medications that are commonly taken for headaches, with some patients often taking multiple medications.

The use of preventative medication may mask the underlying pattern and can impede diagnosis and treatment. As treatment progresses, the aim should be to reduce all medications slowly. Withdrawal of some medications can lead to rebound headaches if done too quickly.

Headaches are quite individual to each person, though as outlined, there are patterns. Each person has their own customised acupuncture protocol.

Dr Sarah Arkell or myself would be happy to assess your needs and help you find some headache relief with acupuncture!

Anne-Maree Hone

Acupuncturist, Simply Natural Therapies

NB. Very sudden headaches or migraines can be the result of a serious medical condition. Always seek medical advice if you are concerned.