Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines Dublin 2

What is the difference between a headache and a migraine?

Migraines are much more than a simple headache. Firstly, migraines are the most common neurological condition in the world. It affects between 12% and 15% of the population in Ireland. Also, women are three times more likely to be affected than men.  

Migraines are different than headaches on many levels. An attack can last between 4 and 72 hours and can be very disabling, preventing people for carrying out their normal activities. Headaches are only one symptom of migraine.

The most frequent migraines are the classical migraine (with aura) and the common migraine (without aura). Classical migraines are preceded by visual disturbances such as blind spots, flashing lights, zigzag patterns and other symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles or numbness in the limbs. Both types of migraine can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion, sensitivity to light, noise or strong smells. Headache symptoms in migraines are often presented under the form of the one-sided throbbing headache.

Sometimes, in women, migraines can be related to hormonal imbalances but in many cases it is inherited. 

Headaches are different because they only involve pain in the head without the associated migraine symptoms. Headache is a very common condition and nearly everyone has experienced a headache at some point in their life. Tension-type headaches are the most common. The pain is bilateral and mild or moderate in intensity. Frequency of occurrence can vary, being occasional or more persistent and sometimes they become chronic. 

Cluster headaches are much rare, affecting about 1% of the population and they are considered the worse type of headache because of the intense pain. They are usually one sided and appear in clusters of many per day. 

sources: http://migraines.ie; http://www.nhs.uk

Headaches in Chinese Medicine:

Many of the acupuncture channels have a branch rising to the head which means that headaches can have many different origins in Chinese medicine. The different types of headache are identified depending on their location, the type of pain and the frequency of the headaches.

If you are coming to see me regarding your headaches, I will ask you questions to identify what type of headache you are suffering from. Because your headache may not be present when you come for the consultation, you should pay attention to the three important parameters mentioned above:

1) Location: 

Top of the head, sides of the head, one side only, temples, behind the eyes, forehead, back of the head or the whole head?

2) Kind of pain:

Dull, feeling of heaviness, distending pain, stiffness, pulling pain, stabbing pain, feeling of emptiness?

3) Triggers:

Frequency, time of occurrence, worse/improved by rest or activity, influenced by the weather, by your emotions, your sexual activity, by food, posture, menstruations, pressure?

The more information you provide me about your headaches, the better chance of an accurate diagnosis within Chinese medicine.

How can acupuncture help?

A lot of research and controlled trials have been done regarding headaches and migraines and results are showing that acupuncture can be beneficial for both conditions. 

For migraines, results from recent and high quality trials have consistently demonstrated that acupuncture is at least as good as preventative drug therapy, significantly superior to no treatment and basic care for migraine with nearly no side-effects.

How acupuncture can help:

For headaches and migraines

Provides pain relief by leading the release and increase of endorphins (body’s own painkillers)

Reduces inflammation

Increases and modulates micro-circulation and blood flow in the head

For migraines 

Affects serotonin levels that are linked with the initiation of migraines

Reduces electric waves in the brain that are associated with migraines 

Sources: BAcC Fact sheets (migraines, headaches)

I do not guarantee that you will attain a particular result, and you accept and understand that results differ for each individual