If you experience disabling headaches, you are far from alone. A large percentage of people the world over suffer from headaches that interfere with their work and other activities. Worse, a great many of these headaches are not resolved by taking medication. According to the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease Study, headache disorders are the third-highest cause of years lost to disability (YLD). If you are part of this miserable statistic, it may be time for you to try acupuncture.
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, where complementary medical treatments are widely accepted and successfully used, acupuncture is considered an important tool for pain relief. Having used acupuncture to treat all sorts of musculoskeletal disorders, we find that many of our patients also report that acupuncture has a very positive impact on reducing the frequency, duration, and intensity of their headaches.
Contact us if you are struggling with headaches or other issues involving pain and dysfunction since these are the areas our doctors specialize in.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a medical treatment that originated in ancient China, then spread throughout Asia over the millennia, eventually making its way to Europe and the U.S. The discipline involves piercing specific points on the body with tiny needles to alleviate pain and promote healing.
How Acupuncture Works
According to Chinese medicine, there are 14 meridians (energy pathways) along which Qi (natural energy) flows. A disturbance in this flow of energy results in illness or pain. Acupuncture acts to remove the obstructions, resulting in restored energy flow and restored health.
How Western Medicine Explains the Healing Power of Acupuncture
Western medicine attributes the positive effects of acupuncture to its ability to:
- Activate sections of the brain that turn off neural pain transmitters
- Stimulate the nervous system to release endorphins
- Prompt the immune and circulatory systems to accelerate healing
Acupuncturists work by following a map that divides the human body into a series of zones and pressure points. Acupuncture needles are inserted into different pressure points, depending on the location of the patient’s symptoms. The pressure point for headaches is LI-4, called Hegu, between the base of the thumb and index finger on either side.
Acupuncture Can Help Prevent All Types of Headaches
There are many different types of headaches, and unfortunately, some patients suffer from more than one variety. Headaches are differentiated according to their perceived causes and particular symptoms and include:
- Tension headaches
- Cluster headaches
- MOH (medication overuse headaches)
Women suffer more migraines than men. This is believed to be related to hormone production since migraines are definitely affected by menstrual cycles.
The Benefits and Advantages of Acupuncture
For many patients troubled by intrusive headaches, acupuncture works when medications do not and is a fine alternative because, unlike medications, acupuncture:
- Has no side effects, and is non-addictive
- Can proactively reduce the number and severity of headaches
- Increases blood circulation to promote healing
- Stimulates production of endorphins (natural painkillers)
- Relaxes muscles (muscle tightness can worsen and prolong pain)
- Relieves swelling and inflammation that produce pain by putting pressure on nerves
- Is covered by some health insurance policies for pain treatment
Acupuncture can be a true blessing to those whose lives have been frequently interrupted by episodes of excruciating pain which is why the physiatrists at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine often recommend it as a complementary medical treatment.
Deciding to try acupuncture for relief from headache pain has no downside since the treatment is pain-free, non-surgical, has no side effects, and may be covered by your health insurance.
Authoritative Sources and Satisfied Patients Recommend Acupuncture for Headaches
While some continue to dismiss acupuncture as a treatment merely because it is relatively new to Western medicine, the following organizations approve of its use for pain relief:
- American Pain Society
- American Migraine Association
- American College of Physicians
- United States National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
More importantly, the proof is in the pudding. Satisfied patients are the most convincing evidence of the efficacy of acupuncture in treating headaches. While the treatment does not work for everyone, a significant percentage of those undergoing acupuncture report reduced reliance on painkillers.
How many acupuncture treatments are necessary for results?
After a short course of acupuncture treatments, many patients notice a discernible improvement. Depending on the individual, acupuncture may be administered twice a week for 12 weeks, and then be tapered down to a single treatment every other week. The acupuncturist may also recommend changes in diet and supplements.
Contact Our Highly Skilled Acupuncturists to Resolve Your Headaches
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our doctors have a comprehensive understanding of acupuncture, having studied this treatment method in depth. As a matter of fact, our physicians have pursued advanced training in acupuncture and complementary medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Make an appointment to consult with our talented professionals today.