Prevent Those Nagging Headaches

Not all headaches are created equal. They present themselves in different areas of your head such as the temples, base of your neck, or even right behind the eyes, to mention just a few. And they can come with varying degrees of pain, some intense—like being poked with a sharp stick, others more subtle, like a dull or even throbbing pain that can last for hours or even days.

It would be hard to find someone who has not had a headache at some point in their life. About half of women experience them and about one-third of men. Statistics show that 1 in 6 people suffer from chronic headaches.

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms that we are presented with at Tao of Wellness. As licensed acupuncturists, we are trained to diagnose and treat nagging headaches, identify patterns of excess or deficiency, and treat them accordingly.

Tension headaches are the most common form of headache and tend to be more prevalent when we’re experiencing stress. They may be caused by sustained tension of the scalp, neck, jaw or eye muscles. Fatigue, pain, depression, irritability and difficulty concentrating may be secondary symptoms.

Migraines are an often debilitating type of headache that can present as throbbing, often on one side of the head. Migraine symptoms may include nausea and/or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine pain can last anywhere from four to 72 hours. Preceding symptoms may include food cravings, mood changes or even frequent yawning. Fatigue and confusion may remain for a day after the headache is gone.

Prevention is key in the treatment of headaches. We ask patients to take a look at what may be triggering their headache in the fi rst place. Perhaps the way you are sleeping is putting strain on your neck, resulting in restricted blood flow to your head. Perhaps sugar, caffeine or salty foods are responsible. Are you getting enough sleep?

Numerous studies have shown acupuncture’s effectiveness in managing the signs and symptoms of headaches of all types. For instance, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine, in February 2017 said acupuncture signifi cantly reduced the frequency of migraine headaches as compared with sham acupuncture. A study published in the British Medical Journal in July 2005 found that acupuncture cut tension headache rates almost in half, and improvements continued for months after treatment.

Acupuncture stimulates points on your body to alter biochemical and physiological condi-tions that cause aches and pains. Combine acupuncture with Tuina bodywork to loosen upper back and neck muscles and you have a good prescription for reducing the frequency and severity of headaches. Chinese herbal therapy can also be effective in reducing your symptoms and keeping them away for good.