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Acupuncture for headaches

Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and migraines are distressing and a fact of life for many people. They can strike at any time, cause intense pain, and last for hours or even days. Medications don’t always solve the problem or only offer short-term relief. Plus, medications mainly treat headache symptoms once they occur and don’t reduce their frequency.


What about acupuncture for headaches and migraines? Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that uses thin needles inserted under the skin to relieve pain and other symptoms. It works in conjunction with the body’s natural healing processes. Studies show that acupuncture has benefits for headaches and migraines.


What Is the Difference Between a Headache and Migraine? 


A headache is the most common type of pain syndrome that people experience. 90% of the population experiences a headache at some point and most people have multiple headaches over a lifetime. Although headaches can occur for various reasons, including a viral or sinus infection, there are three main types of headaches that chronic headache sufferers experience. These include tension, cluster, and migraine headaches. One of the most debilitating is the migraine.


How are migraines different from other types of headaches? A migraine is a complicated neurological disorder with many symptoms. It is not just a bad headache, although it may be the first sign that someone has a migraine. The main symptom of all types of headaches is pain.


With migraine, the pain is often on one side of the head and may be severe, unlike other headaches that cause pain on both sides of the head. Another distinguishing feature of migraine is how it impacts the nervous system. Unlike other common headache types, migraines affect nerve pathways in the brain and can cause symptoms such as:

  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Sensitivity to light or sounds
  • Tingling sensations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

Migraines may occur frequently, with the average migraine sufferer experiencing seven migraine headaches per month. Migraine headaches can last several hours up to several days and can be so incapacitating that it’s difficult to do anything but lie in a dark room. Some people liken the sensation of a migraine to someone thrusting an ice pick into one side of their head. Some migraine sufferers also feel pain behind one or both eyes, and the pain sometimes radiates into the neck.


It’s also possible to have a migraine without any headache at all. Some people experience other migraine symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, noise, and movement without head pain.


Common Causes for Migraines 


The exact cause of migraines is unknown, although “spastic” blood vessels in the brain that tighten and expand irregularly play a role. Hormonal fluctuations in women and certain foods can trigger them. One of the best-known triggers of migraines is stress. According to one study, mental stress is a trigger for 70% of migraine sufferers, and that’s one reason acupuncture for migraines is of benefit. Migraine headaches also tend to run in families and are up to three times more common in women. One reason is that women are more likely to suffer from hormonal changes and fluctuations, which can trigger migraines.


How Does Acupuncture Work to Help Migraines and Headaches? 


What about acupuncture for migraines? If you’re looking for pain relief, acupuncture may help. Science supports its benefits. In a randomized controlled trial, the highest quality study, real acupuncture decreased migraine pain and frequency compared with “sham” acupuncture. Acupuncture also reduced the number of days subjects experienced migraines.


How does acupuncture for migraines work? The mechanism by which acupuncture reduces migraine frequency and pain is unclear. According to one theory, acupuncture stimulates brain pathways that dampen pain perception. It’s also possible that acupuncture reduces migraine frequency by easing stress since stress is such a common trigger of these often-debilitating headaches.


According to the American Migraine Association, at least six acupuncture sessions are ideal for maximum migraine headache relief. One of the benefits of acupuncture for migraine is that it can reduce the need for other migraine-relief medications. That’s important since almost all prescription medications have side effects.


Research also shows that acupuncture for headaches may help relieve tension headaches, the more garden-variety headache that causes dull pain on both sides of the head. Stress usually triggers these headaches. At least two studies show that acupuncture combined with routine tension headache treatment decreases how frequently tension headaches occur.


Other Benefits of Acupuncture 


Acupuncture offers other health benefits for headache sufferers and non-headache sufferers alike. It boosts the release of endorphins, natural stress-relieving chemicals that have a calming effect. Plus, acupuncture for headaches activates the “rest and relax” component of the nervous system, which helps reduce stress and bring about calm.


The stress-reducing benefits of acupuncture also improves sleep quality. Getting enough restful sleep is essential, whether you’re a headache sufferer or not. Plus, acupuncture helps with some digestive issues. For example, small studies show that acupuncture may be beneficial for treating irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy.


Acupuncture is not merely a treatment for headaches. It has been used for over 4000 years and is viewed by many as an effective treatment for a variety of ailments. Plus, it has an excellent record for safety and satisfaction.


Get Migraine Relief with Acupuncture 


Migraines are often difficult to manage without medications, and the drugs used to treat them have side effects. Plus, even prescription medications often don’t provide adequate relief for severe migraines. Acupuncture for headaches, including migraines, is a drug-free treatment option that offers other benefits. By relieving stress, it targets one of the strongest triggers for migraines, stress.


If you suffer from headaches, including migraines, you owe it to yourself to find out whether acupuncture can benefit you. Acupuncture is not merely a treatment for headaches. It has been used for over 4000 years and is viewed by many as an effective treatment for all sorts of ailments. Discover more about acupuncture for headaches and the benefits it offers. It’s as simple as booking an appointment and meeting with our trained acupuncturists and staff. Why not call today for an appointment?



  • “What are the causes of migraine headache?”
  • “Acupuncture Useful for Migraine Prophylaxis”
  • American Migraine Foundation. “A guide to acupuncture for migraine patients”
  • Linde, K., Allais, G., Brinkhaus, B., Manheimer, E., Vickers, A., & White, A. R. (2009). Acupuncture for tension-type headache. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (1), CD007587.