Did you know that headaches come in various shapes and sizes?
At some point we will all suffer from headaches.
Most are minor in nature. Others can be downright debilitating. Either way, they generally have you reaching for that over the counter medication. I have a couple of concerns here.
- A sign of something bigger. The majority of headaches aren’t cause for concern. They’re simply painful. Some, however, can be a symptom of another, potentially more serious, condition. Blindly reaching for OTC painkillers means not knowing and the risk you don’t catch a bigger problem early. When should you see a doctor about your headaches? Here’s what the Mayo Clinic recommends: When to See a Doctor.
- Over reliance on OTC medications. Even if your headache isn’t a symptom of something more serious, they still occur for a reason. Without getting into how the OTC drugs affect us over time, the tendency to reach for that acetaminophen or aspirin when we have a headache we never really get to the root cause for why you are having headaches. That means they can and will reoccur. While we cannot prevent them, knowing what is bringing them on can help lessen their occurrence and severity.
How can acupuncture help with headaches?
There are 3 types of primary headaches (and acupuncture can help with them!)
- Tension – your typical stress induced headache. It’s the most common type and these are generally mild. Acupuncture has been a proven method of reducing stress levels which can bring on this type of headache. Regular treatments could help eliminate them altogether, reduce the number of them or decrease the pain associated with them.
- Migraines – The more severe and painful, but less frequent headache. They typically affect women more than men. Acupuncture has been shown to be significantly better than basic care and management and is at least as effective as some drug treatments (without the potential side effects) – British Acupuncture Council, Feb 2015.
- Cervicogenic – these are musculoskeletal in nature and may be caused by back or neck pain resulting in headaches. Back and neck pain may be tension caused, the result of an accident or and old, nagging injury. Again acupuncture has a proven effect on reducing stress and has been used for centuries in the treatment of chronic pain. Acupuncture helps release endorphins, the wonderful chemical which helps block pain receptors, and can help the body produce natural steroids which decrease inflammation. Reducing the inflammation and back pain removes the main cause of this type of headache.