Acupuncture for Headaches

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 03, 2011

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Headache can be minor inconvenience or can be severe enough to even affect your quality of life.


If your headache is severe and really disrupting your everyday activities active intervention is needed. The prescription medications used for treating arthritis are not very effective and the side effects of the medications can be problematic. Due to these limitations many people with severe or chronic headache often opt for alternative therapies.


But a major concern is ----whether these treatments work? And are they safe?


Can Acupuncture Help Relieve headache?


Studies have shown that acupuncture can offer relief in people with chronic headache without the side effects of the prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Acupuncture and herbal treatment have been used for centuries to treat headaches. It is a widely accepted form of treatment for headaches in many societies.

How Acupuncture Works


According to acupuncture an illness is caused by a disruption of Qi, or the flow of energy in the body. This leads to an imbalance of energy. Acupuncture by stimulation of the energy that flows along the meridians, or energy-carrying channels can correct this energy disruption and help the body to heal. Acupuncture also stimulates the body to secrete chemicals that decrease or eliminate painful sensations.


According to one theory acupuncture points causes a dull ache or other sensations in the muscle. The stimulated muscle and sensory neurons transmit messages to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). This stimulates the brain and the spinal cord to release endorphins (naturally produced pain killers) and other neurotransmitters (body chemicals that modify nerve impulses). These chemicals block the pain signals from being delivered to the brain.


The Acupuncture Treatment


After taking a detailed history and examining you the acupuncturist will select the acupuncture points. Acupuncture points that are used to treat headaches are found all over the body and are not located just on the face, neck and head. When the needle is inserted you will feel a slight sting or prick. After the needle is inserted, you should not feel any pain. During the treatment you should feel comfortable and relaxed.


Your acupuncturist can guide you regarding the number of treatments you need and how often you should come for them. Your acupuncturist may recommend use of herbs along with acupuncture.


Studies on Acupuncture and Headaches


Studies have shown that acupuncture can offer relief for people with chronic headaches. A recent study noted that acupuncture resulted in the resolution or reduction in the frequency and severity of cluster headaches. In addition in many patients the medications could be decrease or even discontinued. Another study which was done in patients with various types of headaches noted that 98% of patients treated with scalp acupuncture experienced a significant decrease in the frequency and severity of headaches or even resolution of symptoms in the six months following care. These results shows that acupuncture can probably provide sustained relief in various types of headaches.


Acupuncture can be an effective, low-risk, and safe procedure when performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner. Do not stop your other medications for headache without consulting your doctor.



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