Acupuncture and Headaches

Types of headaches:

Headaches are a common complaint among patients who come to acupuncturists. A headache may sometimes be a warning sign of a more serious medical condition, especially if you’ve experienced head trauma. Most types of head pain seen by an acupuncturist are either a muscle tension, migraine, sinus or a combination.

Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck. It is the most common type of headache and can be mild, moderate, or intense. It is felt in the head, neck, and behind the eyes. Some patients say that a tension headache feels like a tight band around the forehead.

Migraine headache is a result of specific changes within the brain. Severe head pain is often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, or smells. Common symptoms of migraines are aura preceding the headache (flashing lights, loss of vision) eye pain, sensitivity to light, sound or smell, nausea, vomiting and severe pain usually on one side of the head.

Sinus headaches may feel like an infection in the sinuses (sinusitis). Pressure and throbbing pain is felt around the eyes, cheeks and forehead. Sinus headaches may be accompanied by stuffy nose, fatigue, pressure and fullness in the cheeks, brow and forehead and aching down to the upper teeth.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture provides effective and lasting relief for headaches without the potential side effects of medications. The beauty of using acupuncture for headaches is that it works by addressing both the symptoms and the cause in the following three ways:

  • 1. Relieves pain naturally by prompting the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers). By inserting small needles into specific sites on the body, the needles trigger a response from the nervous system. This response leads the brain to release these natural painkillers.
  • 2. Relaxes muscular tension by signaling the brain (via the nervous system) to direct blood flow to the affected areas. With increased blood flow to the head and neck, acupuncture helps relax these muscles. This addresses the physical mechanism causing the tension headache pain.
  • 3. Reduces and regulates the body’s stress response. Acupuncture is known to regulate the central and autonomic nervous systems. It also regulates heart rate and reduces stress without taxing the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight).

Diane Bousquin L.Ac. has been in practice in La Jolla for more than 12 years. As an acupuncturist she has treated headaches as one of the mainstays of her practice with excellent clinical results. Contact Diane today at 619-808-1099 for evaluation and treatment of your headache.