Saturday, January 21, 2012

Migraine and Tension Headaches: A Natural Cure through Acupuncture

Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines

Headaches fall into three main categories: tension-type, migraine and cervicogenic. Tension-type headaches are the most frequent. Patients who endure tension-type headaches usually feel mild to moderate pain on both sides of the head. The pain is usually described as tight, stiff or constricting, as if something is being wrapped around your head and squeezed tightly. Tension headaches are the most common headaches, and generally cause infrequent mild to moderate pain, but in a considerable number of patients, tension headaches are so frequent that they require treatment.

Migraine headaches, on the other hand, can be disabling and severe. Accompanying symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.While migraines affect far fewer people than tension-type headaches and have a much shorter duration, their symptoms are much more severe. They typically affect women more frequently than men, with pain that usually occurs on one side of the head

Cervicogenic headaches are the most recently diagnosed type of headache and are musculoskeletal in nature. They may be caused by pain in the neck or spine that is transferred to the head. Many times, cervicogenic headaches go undiagnosed because of their recent classification.

Who suffers from headaches?

Nearly everyone will suffer a headache at some point in time. They are one of the most common physical complaints that prompt people to treat themselves or seek professional assistance. Some estimates say that up to 50 million Americans suffer from sever, long-lasting, recurring headaches. While most headaches are not necessarily symptomatic of another condition, they can be very distracting and account for significant amounts of time lost from work.

What causes headaches?

Emotional stress is a well known trigger for migraine. Japanese researchers have found that people living in fast-paced business centers in Tokyo tend to have an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system, specifically, an inhibition of the parasympathetic system that is active during relaxation, and an excitation of the sympathetic nervous system, which governs our response to stress. This type of imbalance is associated with other health conditions such as heart disease, insomnia, high blood pressure, and premenstrual syndrome.

In order to harmonize the autonomic nervous system, our acupuncture physician uses a special acupuncture technique called SES. The SES technique involves the shallow insertion of acupuncture needles just to the dermis of the skin, with manual needle stimulation given while the patient is exhaling and in sitting position. This technique was originally studied by professor Kazushi Nishijo of Tsukuba College of Technology in Japan, who found it had positive physiological effects on the nervous system. Recent studies suggest that this acupuncture technique may activate the parasympathetic nervous system and decrease muscle tension. Acupuncture points for this technique are usually chosen on the forearms and lower legs.

An imbalance of female hormones is another factor believed to be related to migraine. At Healthy Being Wellness Center, females with migraine outnumber males. Application of indirect heat using moxibustion, a traditional heat treatment that involves gently burning medicinal herbs over the skin on the lower abdomen, low back, and sacral bone may help balance female hormones.

Significant muscle tension in the neck and upper back is common in people with migraines, so reducing this tension is an important part of migraine prevention. Application of acupuncture needles to points on the patient's body found to be sensitive or reactive in order to cause an instantaneous increase in blood flow to those tight muscles

What can acupuncture do for headaches?

Acupuncture, as an effective treatment modality, has been applied to headaches from the earliest beginnings of TCM. Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with thin, metallic needles at specific points. It is one of the main medical treatments in traditional Chinese medicine, where it came into being more than 2,000 years ago.

Since pain during a migraine is believed to be associated with dilation of blood vessels in the head, inducing this physiological reaction through the insertion of needles into the head and neck area would not be desirable during an attack. It may even temporarily worsen the patient's pain and accompanying symptoms such as nausea.

The head and neck areas are rarely stimulated to avoid unnecessary dilation of vessels in that area. In addition, the entire treatment is often done with the patient in sitting position rather than the usual lying position. This is because blood vessels are under greater control in sitting position, minimizing the chance of undesired dilation of the blood vessels following acupuncture. In certain situations, a high frequency (100 Hz) electrical current may be connected to the acupuncture needles to help constrict the blood vessels. Acupuncture for migraine prevention

Brian Berman, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine in Baltimore, confirmed that acupuncture is definitely becoming a more popular treatment option for Americans. "There is more evidence coming out showing acupuncture is safe and often effective and should be considered as part of a multidisciplinary approach for chronic pain," he said.

Appointments are available Mon-Saturday. Please call 727-502-3464 or visit our website: to book your appointment online.

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