If you suffer from migraines or tension type headaches, you know how painful and debilitating these conditions can be. Read on to find out more about headache disorders and how acupuncture can help to treat and prevent migraine and some other headache disorders.
There are many different types of headache including migraine, tension-type headache, cluster headache, and headache caused by over-use of medication.
Let's take a look at Migraines:
The repeated attacks typically include:
Let's also take a brief look at tension headaches.
Acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional medicine, used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health. Its benefits are now widely acknowledged all over the world and in the past decade traditional acupuncture has begun to feature more prominently in mainstream healthcare in the UK. The use of acupuncture for migraines is now widely accepted and recommended on the NHS website, and by NICE for chronic pain including migraines.
There have been many studies of the benefits of using acupuncture to treat migraines, including some large controlled trials in recent years. The results are quite consistent: acupuncture is considerably better than no treatment/basic care for migraine, at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy and has few contraindications or unpleasant side effects (Linde 2009, Wang 2008, Sun 2008, Scott 2008). It may be used to alleviate acute attacks as well as for prevention (Li 2009).
Many patients come to us for help with chronic migraines and tension headaches. During the consultation, our practitioner will enquire about things like: onset duration and time, type of pain, location of pain, what makes it better, what makes it worse. She will also ask about your diet, exercise, lifestyle, sources of stress, and any other symptoms you may have, such as neck and shoulder pain, auras, nausea, digestive problems, menstrual cramps, eye pain.
Our practitioner Helen Trill will use this information to choose an appropriate course of treatment, using well documented acupuncture point combinations for different patterns, but will also use judgement, experience and knowledge of point functions, channels and anatomy involved to choose additional points both locally and at a distance that will be of benefit. The points used in each treatment may change as the treatment progresses and the pattern changes and starts to corrects itself.
Helen sometimes uses cupping, moxa, electro-acupuncture, shiatsu and/or sports massage to enhance the acupuncture treatments if appropriate. Recommendations may also be made at the end of the consultation.
'Many of the people who come to me for acupuncture have been suffering from migraines for some time, often years. They have tried all sorts of medications and are now looking for a different approach. In many cases, the muscles and fascia of the neck and shoulders are very tense and tight - releasing this has proven to be an important part of the treatment. I often use other techniques as well, such as cupping, shiatsu or sports massage. Needles may be placed locally and also away from the head, such as in the feet. One of the things we talk about in the consultation is diet, as making some small changes there can make a difference too. Providing an initial program of 8-10 weekly treatments (typically), sometimes followed by periodic maintenance sessions, usually provides our patients with lasting benefit'. Acupuncturist, Dr Helen Trill DipAc MAA RBAF
'I suffer from acute migraines, neck and upper back pain. I have been taking medication for my migraines for years and they were increasing in severity. Lots of tests had been done and my GP and I were looking at possible medical intervention. Acupuncture was suggested and I was so lucky to find Helen at Bubbling Spring Clinic. I booked a course of treatments to begin with. Helen was professional, friendly and made me feel at ease. Everything was explained clearly, as I was nervous and didn't know what to expect. The treatment has really helped my migraines, I have now reduced the amount of medication I was taking. I feel so much better. I am now on a maintenance programme, having a treatment every 6-8 weeks. I feel so much better and the treatment is definitely helping me. The Clinic is immaculate and the whole experience is so very relaxing. I highly recommend Helen.' - Lorna
'Helen was recommended to me through a family member as I have suffered from migraines for a number of years. I have been on medication for a long time but decided to try an alternative. I'm not the most confident of people but I found Helen to be very patient, open and thoroughly knowledgeable and she put me at ease. After a series sessions I have found my migraines have ceased and any headaches I do get are now manageable and infrequent. I cannot praise Helen and the service she provides enough, and wouldn't hesitate in recommending Bubbling Spring Acupuncture Clinic'. - Gabika
WHO Headache Disorders Factsheet http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/headache-disorders (2016)
ICHD-3 The International Classification of Headache Disorders : Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache
Linde K et al. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009 Issue 1. Art.No.: CD001218. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub2.
Wang YY, Zheng Z, Xue CCL Acupuncture for Migraine. Austral J Acupunc Chin Med 2008;3(1):1-16
Sun Y, Gan TJ. Acupuncture for the management of chronic headache: a systematic review. Anesth Analg 2008;107:2038-47
Scott SW, Deare JC. Acupuncture for migraine: a systematic review. Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine 2006;1:3-14.
Li Y, Liang F, Yang X, Tian X et al. Acupuncture for treating acute attacks of migraine: A randomized controlled trial. Headache. 2009; 49 (6) (pp 805-816)
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