Acupuncture for Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are characterized by dull pain, pressure or tightness around the head and are often triggered by stress. They are very common and about 80% of adults in the US suffer from tension headaches from time to time. While tension headaches don’t typically prevent people from doing normal daily activities, quality of life is certainly compromised for those patients who struggle with frequent tension headaches. The standard recommendation from conventional medicine on the treatment and prevention of tension headaches is to take medications and rarely are recommendations made to changes in lifestyle or behavior made. Acupuncture for tension headaches treatment can be very helpful to improve the overall condition.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a very different approach to tension headaches. Here is how acupuncture for tension headaches works:
- stops acute pain
- corrects imbalances of meridians and organs
- prevents future episodes
The diagnosis of tension headaches in traditional Chinese medicine involves identifying the location of the pain in the head. The location of the headache is important because all twelve organ meridians flow to the head.
A tension headache that manifests on the temples or around the eyes requires a different treatment strategy than a headache on the top of the head or at the base of the skull.
In traditional Chinese medicine, all pain conditions are associated with stagnation of qi (pronounced chee) or the stagnation of blood. Acupuncture for tension headaches works by unblocking stagnation of qi and blood and by improving the circulation through the meridians, organs and various tissues of the body. Acupuncture for tension headaches also works to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system which becomes dominant under chronic stress states. By down-regulating the “fight/flight” response of the body and promoting the relaxation response of the autonomic nervous system, acupuncture normalizes blood flow and blood vessel dilation of the head and neck.
There are factors which may contribute to the onset and continuation of tension headaches:
- acute or ongoing emotional stress
- muscle spasms in the neck
- clenching of the jaw
- grinding teeth
- long periods looking into a computer screen
- changes in hormones
- changes in weather and barometric pressure
- exhaustion or inadequate sleep
- nutritional deficiencies
- food sensitivities
- mental exertion
In order to effectively prevent frequent episodes of tension headaches, the importance of behavioral and lifestyle modification cannot be understated.
Rather than simply treating symptoms of head pain, an acupuncturist investigates to understand what the whole-health picture of the patient is to uncover the potential triggers of tension headache.
In Kristin’s clinic, most cases of chronic tension headache are resolved in 6-8 weeks of regular acupuncture treatments. In a study of approximately 70 people it was found that acupuncture was more effective at relieving cases of episodic headache than standard medical care alone.
Many patients dismiss their head pain as “normal”, when in fact there is no such thing as a “normal” headache. Any pain or symptom anywhere in the body is an indication that something is wrong.
If you have suffered from tension headaches and they interfere with your quality of life, acupuncture for tension headaches may be the solution you have been looking for.
To get started, call now and schedule your appointment.