If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines you may have tried everything from medication, essential oils and exercise to treat your pain and be looking for another option. Acupuncture is a safe and effective alternative for pain relief from migraines and headaches. Acupuncture needles stimulate the release of naturally occurring pain-relieving chemicals and hormones in the body that have similar properties to opioid pain relievers. One study expressed promise that acupuncture could be better than most pain medications. Read on to learn more about how acupuncture can help manage pain from headaches and migraines.

Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves inserting very thin needles into pressure points on your body. Some studies affirm that acupuncture can give relief to people that experience chronic headache pain. The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed acupuncture as a promising treatment for pain since 1979.

Acupuncture benefits for headaches

Through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture seeks to balance and restore the flow of positive energy throughout your body.

It also claims to remove negative energy that is causing you pain. From a modern medical perspective, acupuncture stimulates various systems of your body. This may trigger a healing response.

Acupuncture divides your body into a series of zones and pressure points. Acupuncture needles are inserted into different pressure points, depending on your symptoms. These needle points are usually near nerves in your body. The needle stimulates the nerves to release hormones, such as endorphins, that trigger a response from your body. This stimulation is what proponents of acupuncture claim relieves migraines and tension headaches.

Acupuncture risks and shortcomings for headaches

Acupuncture itself carries little risk when done by a licensed practitioner. Sometimes bruising, fatigue, and soreness follow an acupuncture appointment, especially after your first time.

Make sure to do your homework on your acupuncturist before booking your first appointment, and leave the appointment if you don’t feel comfortable. Watch your practitioner to make sure that the needles being used are sterile and new. Some people do feel tiny pricks when the needles are inserted for acupuncture treatment. Some people won’t feel anything at all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what is going on. A good acupuncturist will walk you through the procedure and make sure it’s a calm and safe experience for you.

Acupuncture by itself might not be enough to treat chronic headache pain. Migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches that impair your daily life may be addressed with pain medication.

General guidelines for acupuncture

There’s no special preparation prior to an acupuncture treatment appointment. If it’s your first time, you may want to go with a list of questions. Your practitioner will be able to advise you how many treatments you should expect, and how often you might need to go to experience relief of your symptoms.

A clinical study of acupuncture for cluster headaches recommended treatment twice a week for two weeks, followed by one treatment per week for eight weeks, and maintenance treatments of once every other week after that.

When to see your doctor

Acupuncture can’t take the place of traditional medicine. Some headaches require immediate medical attention, and you shouldn’t try to treat them with acupuncture. Speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing loss of vision, dizziness, or nausea.

Headaches after a blow to the head, headaches that keep getting worse, and unusually severe headaches can all indicate that you need immediate emergency attention. Sometimes headaches can be caused by underlying factors, such as a blood pressure spike or an allergic reaction, that need to be diagnosed. Always remember to tell your doctor about alternative medical treatments that you’re receiving for an established diagnosis.

To learn more about how acupuncture can help you manage your pain, or to book an appointment with Dr. Peter Wood Dr. TCM, R.Ac. email us at info@evolvevancouver.ca.