Acupuncture for migraine headaches
Headache is one of the most common ailments. It is a non-specific symptom, which means that it has many possible causes. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck, and acupuncture for migraine can help address these underlying ailments.
The debilitating pain from chronic headaches can be life altering, causing sufferers to miss work, lose sleep, and experience a diminished quality of life. Acupuncture for migraine symptoms can help to restore life balance.
There are many different types of headache, and the causes range from harmless to life-threatening.
Primary headaches are those that aren’t due to another underlying health problem. The most common types of headache are the primary headaches, such as:
• Tension headache: the most common type of headaches. Most adults will have experienced a tension headache. These headaches affect both sides of the head and cause a constant feeling of pressure or a tight band around the head.
• Migraine: about 15 per cent of adults have migraines. Women are affected 2-3 times more often than men, and hormones are thought to play a role. People describe migraines as a pounding or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. Nausea and sensitivity to light and noise often accompany the headache. Migraine attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours, can be completely disabling, and can prevent people from carrying out their usual activities for up to three days. Even when they don’t have symptoms, people affected may live in fear of the next attack.
• Cluster headache: excruciating attacks of pain in one side of the head, often felt behind the eye. They’re rare and are called cluster headaches because they happen in clusters for a month or two at a time around the same time of year.
A headache is secondary when it is caused by some other condition:
- General medical conditions such as severe hypertension
- Conditions that affect the brain and its coverings such as sinusitis, meningitis and head trauma
- Anything that takes up space inside the head including tumour, subdural hematoma and hydrocephalus
- Other blood vessel problems, like subarachnoid hemorrhage which can result from rupture of an aneurysm can lead to severe headache
Treating headaches and migraines with TCM
Western medicine treatment of a headache depends on the underlying etiology or cause, but commonly involves analgesics. Side effects from pain medication can create an additional set of problems such as stomach pain, digestive complaints, dizziness, and muscle weakness.
Because of the possible side effect of the drugs for headache and migraine, more and more people have started to search for alternatives – such as acupuncture for migraine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats headaches holistically, bringing balance to the body and emotions without chemical side effects and lowering the chances of relapse – acupuncture for migraine can often be very beneficial.
In Chinese medicine, it is explained that headache is caused either by external factors or internal damage. Headache caused by external factors can be divided into three types: wind-cold, wind-heat, and wind-damp. Headaches caused by internal damage can be divided into the following four types: deficiency of both Qi (vital energy) and blood, deficiency of the liver and kidney, turbid phlegm stoppage, as well as blood stasis. Migraine is mostly caused by wind-fire of the liver.
In treating the headaches, TCM will adopt different treatments based on different causes and clinical manifestations. The methods include Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture for migraine conditions, dietary therapy and therapeutic massage, which prove to be effective and reliable. They are often more specific to the individual patient’s condition according to their specific diagnostic categories, instead of treating every person’s headache the same way.
Dr. Jim Xing of our clinic has accumulated a wealth of experience in the treatment of headache and migraine. He can work out the cause of your headache and migraine during his diagnosis. Treating and alleviating the pain is usually part of the initial treatment. Depending on the individual and their symptoms, Dr. Xing Acupuncturist may recommend ongoing treatments to help maintain or control the symptoms, including acupuncture for migraine. He may find that the cause of your migraines is a deficiency in the body or other factors such as Qi stagnation, and this will be addressed in the ongoing treatments.
Helped at the centre:
Headaches and migraines are among the most common conditions seen by Dr. Xing. Most patients who have sought his treatment for these conditions have been extremely satisfied, whether they receive acupuncture for migraine or various other treatments. A large number of Dr. Xing’s patients include people who have tried other options, but without success.
One patient had been suffering from severe headaches and migraine associated with nausea, vomiting and irregular period for many years. Over time, her condition had gotten worse, especially during menstrual cycles. She had sought the treatment of many other physicians, including other Chinese medicine practitioners, but her condition didn’t improve. A friend recommended that she visit our clinic, and so she did so. After careful examination of her condition, Dr. Xing diagnosed that her condition was a result of Yang deficiency associated with excess cool dampness causing Qi stagnation in the liver and stomach meridian. He then prescribed Chinese herbs accordingly, with the purpose of warming the meridian and relieving the Qi stagnation. The first week of treatment saw the patient’s headaches cease, and her feeling very pleasantly surprised. Confident with the treatment, she then continued the treatment for several months: in this time her headaches had gone from occasional to virtually none, she had been relieved of all her symptoms, and her general wellbeing had dramatically improved.