Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Massage are very effective in the treatment of both headaches and migraines. Headaches are very common, most people rest or take an over the counter painkiller and the headache clears, however, for many the headaches persist or reoccur and they seek treatment.
The treatment of headaches and migraines with acupuncture, massage and Chinese herbal medicine involves an in-depth consultation, there are many types of headaches and the treatment is only effective if a correct diagnosis is made.
Where on the head is a headache? Is it on the top, back or front, one side, both sides or all over? These areas involve different acupuncture channels and the root of the cause can vary. For example, a headache on the top of the head is more likely to come from stress or suppressed anger if strong and thumping or after a heavy period in women if duller. The forehead is more associated with the stomach and digestive problems, or if it comes from the occipital area and includes the forehead it is often neck tension. The sides of the head usually form tension in the shoulders, some tooth problems and gallbladder issues, the back of the head and neck can be painful or ache after exposure to cold and wind or if the muscles of the upper, medium and lower trapezius are tight. One-sided headaches or behind the eyes are usually linked with migraines and have the associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting, aura and photosensitivity ( aggravated by light).
What is the pain like? This gives many clues as to the origin, possible cause and how to treat. A dull headache can be from overtiredness, after a heavy period, lack of sleep. A heavy head from a cold, sinusitis, blocked ears and can be linked to dizziness and a muzzy head. A stiffness in the back of the head and neck may be exposure to cold and wind or muscle tension n the neck and shoulders, a stabbing pain may be the site of a fall or previous injury. A persistent cough can cause a strong headache all over the head.
The time of day and what makes a headache or a migraine worse or improve is important in diagnosis. Is it better for rest or activity? What time of the day or night does it come on? Is it affected by weather or emotions? Are there any food links? Many of these factors can improve or aggravate the sensation of a headache.
For women, the menstrual cycle plays a huge factor in their headaches. For many the build-up or premenstrual section of the month can cause severe headaches and migraines, for others it is during the bleed or after, these headaches tend to be duller and more diffuse. Treatment for menstrually related headaches will involve acupuncture and herbs to help regulate the cycle and treat PMS if appropriate word tonics to help the dull post menstrual headaches, especially if there is a heavy bleed involved.
Food and diet can be a huge factor in the cause and treatment of headaches. If headaches seem to be food related a food elimination schedule can isolate the likely culprit. There are common foods that cause headaches, such as caffeine (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks), chocolate, alcohol, citrus fruits, wheat products, dairy and sugar. But sometimes the trigger is not obvious, in these cases it is often a food that is eaten regularly, where the patient builds up a resistance, but in time this causes headaches. For these patients, a methodical elimination of commonly eaten foods can come up with the cause. Generally improving the diet, reducing caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods etc. will reduce the severity of most headaches. However, if someone takes a lot of caffeine, they may get headaches as a reaction to cutting it out or reducing substantially until the body adjusts.
Once a diagnosis has been reached, with appropriate questions as to the cause and aggravation of the headaches, then the treatment will consist of acupuncture, massage and Guashi for more musculoskeletal headaches. Guashi is a technique that involves light scraping of the affected areas, this brings the blood to the surface, increasing localized blood flow and shows all the sensitive areas of the back, neck and shoulders. For more internally caused headaches the acupuncture and massage will be combined with Chinese herbal medicine and appropriate dietary advice.
Headaches and migraines respond well to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, not everyone is completely cured, but the majority get substantial relief from treatment. Enough to reduce medication and to lead a more normal life. Once the headaches have been reduced or cleared they usually stay that way, unless something adverse occurs to the patient, like a physical injury or severe stress.
Some patients actually get headaches as a result of taking excessive painkillers long-term acupuncture, massage and herbal medicine can wean them off dependency and allow them to reduce medication without adverse side effects.