Headaches, Can Acupuncture Help?

The head is one of the most common areas for pain in the body. It’s no wonder that more people complain about headaches than any other medical concerns. They are painful, disabling, and a quality of life zapper.

I used to be a chronic headache sufferer and, over the many years, suffered from different types. I personally experienced how they can affect one’s social life, attitude, ability to function, affect productivity, and decrease one’s overall sense of wellbeing. I kicked my chronic headaches to the curb many years ago. 

My Story

My story starts before I changed professions and became an acupuncturist. I had a history of chronic headaches for umpteen years, and western medicine held no answers or solutions. I just started going to twice weekly acupuncture for treatment when I was rear-ended in a motor vehicle accident (MVA), resulting in new-to-me migraines.

Being tortured by migraines that would literally drop me to my knees, I needed to find a solution. I had so many appointments including chiropractic care, PT, massage, OT, an ENT specialist, a neurologist, a brain MRI, extensive testing, many x-rays, yet faithfully continued acupuncture. I will admit, with all my appointments, the twice-weekly acupuncture treatment schedule was tricky. I didn’t have enough time or energy in the day for everything.

My acupuncturist was my lifesaver!

I had so many meetings with all my care providers. I was working full-time, going to night school for some pre-requisite classes for graduate school, and dealing with the migraines themselves. I didn’t forget to add “having a life” to that list, my migraines took that from me. So I was bound and determined to get rid of them.

“Finding time for acupuncture was one thing I look back on and thank my lucky stars for.”

It was a lot, more than a lot. But finding time for acupuncture was one thing I look back on and thank my lucky stars for. Without doubling the length of this blog by getting into all the ways my acupuncturist helped me, I’ll sum it up and say she was a lifesaver. My acupuncturist was my lifesaver! I got my life back. 

I had found the right team of care providers, my acupuncturist included, and my migraines eased up. I still got them, but not as frequently, and they no longer lasted a month at a time. Yes, a month-long migraine! I had several of those.

Kicking headaches to the curb

I didn’t change professions because of my headaches, I was already on that path. I entered graduate school. I still got the occasional migraines and still had daily headaches. With the support of my fellow student practitioners in the clinic, I was also able to kick those daily headaches to the curb, and they haven’t been back. The migraines are virtually gone. My body still whispers to me on a rare occasion that I could get one, so I listen and can prevent them. 

What was different about the acupuncture in graduate school that helped me get rid of the daily headaches? Me, I was different. Before graduate school, I was receiving acupuncture for headaches, yet my injured body still had much to heal from due to the MVA. While I came a long way in my healing journey, but it wasn’t yet complete when entered graduate school.

Those daily headaches were chronic and spanned too many years to count. Chronic conditions can take longer to address and usually need more care. And since my body was already so busy healing all the other parts of me, those daily headaches were last on the recovery list. Acupuncture in graduate school continued to help me improve and eventually end those daily headaches.

I’m not saying your timetable will be as long as mine. I had a lot going on! I’m saying we need to be gentle of the expectations we place on our body and give it the time it needs to heal

Everyone’s body is in a different state of health or lack of, and your healing time is unique to you. But acupuncture works and can help speed up the healing process! 

How Common are Pesky Headaches?

As it turns out, they are very pesky. About 1 in 6 people or around 45 million Americans are suffering from headaches. This results in more than 8,000,000 visits each year to doctors from patients with complaints of headaches. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that about 50% of adults suffer from headaches disorders. Women are up to 3 times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. This difference is hormonally driven. 

Four Basic Types of Headaches

It might feel oversimplified, but there are 4 basic types of headaches including migraines, cluster headaches, tension headaches, and sinus. There are several types of headaches, yet these 4 affect people the most. It is important to note that headaches can be secondary to other conditions, such as TMJ, injury, dental work, stress, or medication overuse. 

Acupuncture is a Safe and Effective Treatment

Acupuncture is a highly safe and effective treatment for all types of headaches both primary and secondary. At Modern Point Acupuncture, we will determine how best to treat your particular type of headache during your evaluation. Acupuncture treatments will help decrease the severity and frequency of the headaches while also helping to address the root cause. We would love to help you kick your headaches to the curb.

Research

Did you know that migraines have been studied more than other headache disorders? 

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis for the most common type of migraine, a migraine without aura (MWoA) studied acupuncture as a treatment option. Their analysis found acupuncture to have a significant advantage over medication in reducing the frequency of migraines and a higher effective rate.

Research also shows acupuncture is an effective tool to treat chronic headaches.

According to a 2017 study, the acupuncture treatment group had a significant decrease in headache intensity and frequency with benefits lasting months after the treatment stopped. 

Not a migraine sufferer, but a tension headache sufferer? Research hasn’t forgotten you, it has demonstrated acupuncture to be useful for treating chronic tension-type headaches as well. 

Acupuncture Can Offer Relief

For those that suffer from headaches, acupuncture can offer relief from the following symptoms and causes of headaches:

Menstrual migraines

Neck & back muscle tension or pain

Stress

TMJ, Jaw, dental, or facial pain

Chronic headaches

Migraine headaches

Sinus pressure or congestion

Nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity

Sleep issues

Allergies

Interested in learning more about how acupuncture can treat your headaches, contact Dr. Nicky, DACM or any of Modern Point Acupuncture’s practitioners.

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Dr. Nicky Rieks, DACM, L.Ac. Dipl.Ac.

Dr. Nicky Rieks, DACM, L.Ac. Dipl.Ac.

Dr. Nicky is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine and a licensed acupuncturist in the state of Minnesota. She treats people of all ages, and for a diversity of health issues, including pain relief, injuries, stress, anxiety & depression, digestive and respiratory complaints, fatigue & sleep issues, skin conditions, fertility and women’s health.