Headache and Migraine Relief With Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

acupuncture_natural_pain_solutionsOur practitioner, Scott Hankinson has been successfully treating clients with headaches and migraines since 1994.  As both a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor and a Naturopath with over two decades of experience in each, he brings a unique perspective to treating headaches and migraines which not only looks at relieving painful symptoms using Acupuncture, but at treating the underlying cause so that your headache or migraine has no reason to return.

Acupuncture is an excellent way of relieving your pain quickly.  Many people experience relief after just one treatment, although this depends on the severity of the headache or migraine and whether or not it’s a chronic (ongoing) problem.  For chronic conditions the body needs several regular ‘reminders’ of the new energetic or electrical pathways initiated by the insertion of acupuncture needles.

There have now been many controlled trials of acupuncture for migraine, with some large, high-quality ones in recent years. The results of the latest reviews are quite consistent: acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment/basic care for managing  migraine, and appears to be at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy, with few contraindications or unpleasant side effects (Linde 2009, Wang 2008, Sun 2008, Scott 2008).  Acupuncture has a similar or slightly better effect than sham procedures, which themselves can perform as well as conventional drugs, indicating that sham acupuncture is not an inactive placebo but a contentious alternative intervention. Acupuncture has been found to be cost-effective (Witt 2008; Wonderling 2004). As well as prevention it may also be used to alleviate symptoms in acute attacks (Li 2009). There is preliminary qualitative evidence from patients that acupuncture can increase coping mechanisms as well as relieve migraine symptoms (Rutberg 2009).

Migraine is thought to begin as an electrical phenomenon in the cerebrum that then affects blood vessels, biochemistry, and causes neurogenic inflammation.  From a Chinese Medicine perspective, migraine is simply a more intense and debilitating version of a headache, to the degree that symptoms of nausea, extreme light sensitivity, blurred vision and dizziness can also occur.

Acupuncture can help in the treatment of headaches and migraine by:

  • Providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurochumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Zhao 2008, Zijlstra 2003, Pomeranz, 1987)
  • Reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).
  • Relaxing the muscles in the neck and shoulders, therefore releasing nerves, helping the blood flow and taking pressure off the discs on the neck, allowing the vertebrae to naturally realign.
  • Reducing the degree of cortical spreading depression (an electrical wave in the brain associated with migraine) and plasma  levels of calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P (both implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine) (Shi 2010).
  • Modulating extracranial and intracranial blood flow (Park 2009).
  • Affecting serotonin (5-hydroxytriptamine) levels in the brain (Zhong 2007). (Serotonin may be linked to the initiation of migraines; 5-HT agonists (triptans) are used against acute attacks.)

When supplemented by herbal and nutritional medicines to nourish the body exactly where it needs it most, acupuncture is even more fast-acting and effective. 
A huge benefit of having treatment at Natural Pain Solutions is that your Chinese Medicine Practitioner is also a Naturopath, which means you get double the value.  Our practitioner is very experienced in Chinese pulse diagnosis and can quickly identify the organ systems which are under stress and likely to be causing your headache or migraine.  He will match this diagnosis with nutritional advice to help minimise the excess inflammation in your body, as well as also recommend and prescribe targeted natural remedies to help your body heal faster.  And this is all during your Initial Assessment, before your acupuncture treatment even begins!

For long term relief of chronic problems, it is essential to investigate why the problem has occurred in the first place. It’s important to understand that your headache is not so much the problem as the symptom of the problem.  This may sound like splitting hairs, but it’s a vital distinction and one that separates short term relief from fixing your problem for good.  Pain of any sort is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong – that something is out of balance.  Your headache exists because your body is malfunctioning on some level.  If it were working properly, you would not be in pain.

Why is your body sending you signals of pain?  Why isn’t your body healing as it should, on its own?  These are the vital questions researched by our practitioner, because only in identifying what is going amiss in your nutrition and lifestyle (which includes postural and physical fitness) can we correct the underlying cause and prevent your headaches or migraines from recurring.

If your headache or migraine is acute (non-recurring and often caused by injury or unusual stress) acupuncture is typically very effective and fast-acting.  The naturopathic advice given during your initial assessment will also be of great benefit, as when your body is in pain it uses more nutritional resources than normal.  By providing your body with the extra nourishment it needs, you can speed up the healing process remarkably.

To book an acupuncture appointment at Natural Pain Solutions, call us on 9876 8786 or use our easy Online Booking system (be sure to choose Acupuncture INITIAL Treatment plus Assessment the first time you book).

We look forward to stopping your headache or migraine in its tracks and helping you to make sure it never, ever returns!