I have been getting re-occurring headaches, my GP says its due to stress. Can acupuncture help with this?
Headaches are horrible things, having once been a sufferer myself of migraines, I feel your pain. Again, without sounding bias, yes acupuncture is fantastic for treating headaches, migraines and/or cluster headaches (that’s how I have treated my own previous history of headaches). Tension headaches are the most common in the world with some reports saying that 2 in 3 people will/do suffer from tension headaches on a regular basis.
In Chinese medicine we view headaches slightly differently to western medicine. Often with tension headaches it can be due to the liver (Chinese medicine liver). This is the emotional organ of the body, the organ that generally is responsible for people waking between 1am – 3am and thinking about work or other stressors. When the liver qi stagnates it often presents in the upper thoracic / neck region of the body. When the qi stagnates and obstructs the natural flow of the qi through the meridians, we often see headaches starting at the base of the skull and more often than not radiates up to the forehead. Quite a typical presentation in clinic of a tension headache.
Will treatment hurt, and where will the needles be?
I always get asked this question, with the needles, we use single use sterile needles that are very fine. Often patients can’t feel the insertion as this is quick, occasionally there can be a slight prick, especially in the hands or feet as the kin is more sensitive. Other than that, we look for a dull, heavy, achy feeling…this for an acupuncturist is a good thing as it means we have elicited qi or activated the point/channel.
In Chinese medicine there are easily over 20 types of patterns (or diagnosis’) for headaches, so depending on the quality of the pain, location, onset, what gives the patient relief helps us to diagnose and this then in effect determines which points we use. Quite often though with the typical tension headache we will choose local points around the head/neck, shoulder, feet and hands. I also like to finish a headache treatment with cupping as if the patient is carrying extensive tension in their shoulders this also helps to break up that tension and allow qi and blood to move more freely.
How quick will I see results with acupuncture and is this a long-term treatment protocol?
This really depends on the patient and how they are presenting. I had a patient come to me in her first trimester of pregnancy with severe re-occurring headaches, after one treatment they stopped. Other patients will need a few treatments, so it really does depend on your lifestyle and medical history. Another thing worth mentioning is lifestyle and diet. Sometimes by simply increasing water intake, eating more regular meal (or excluding some trigger type foods), increasing exercise (especially for tension type headaches) collectively with needles we can achieve fantastic results. Seeing as I am also a huge advocate for Chinese herbs, there is the option to explore herbal medicine as well to help support the needles and over all treatment.
So yes, I believe I can help with headaches and with tremendous results. If headaches are re-occurring it can be the most debilitating thing, so I would suggest you come in for a consult and we can review what your headache ‘picture’ looks like and work out a plan to give you some piece of mind (literally).