Do you ever find yourself dealing with a throbbing, tight sensation in your head that just won’t go away? If you’ve experienced tension headaches, you’re not alone. These pesky headaches can make it hard to focus on school, sports, or just having fun with friends. While there are many ways to tackle tension headaches, one ancient remedy that’s gaining popularity is acupuncture.
What Are Tension Headaches?
Before we dive into how acupuncture can help, let’s understand what tension headaches are. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache although the exact cause is not known from a modern medical perspective. They often feel like a tight band squeezing around your head, causing discomfort and pain. Stress, computer eye strain, poor posture, and muscle tension are some common culprits behind these headaches.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice that originated in China over 2,500 years ago. The ideas, treatment strategies, and therapies were recorded in the Neijing (an ancient Chinese text). Acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles into the body. Included in treatments are other forms of therapy like massage (tuina / gua sha) , the application of heat (moxibustion) and the use of herbal formulas internally or externally.
How Does Acupuncture Work for Tension Headaches?
Acupuncture can be a great way to relieve tension headaches, and here’s how it works:
- Relaxing Muscles: Acupuncture needles stimulate your muscles and nerves. This helps to release built-up tension and knots in your neck and shoulders, which are often linked to tension headaches.
- Boosting Blood Flow: Acupuncture increases blood flow, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients to the affected areas. This can reduce pain and inflammation.
- Releasing Endorphins: When needles are inserted, your body may release endorphins, your natural painkillers. This can help you feel relaxed, less stressed, and pain relieved!
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed practitioner. The needles used are very thin, which can feel uncomfortable but not severely painful. Be sure to visit a reputable acupuncture practitioner who follows strict hygiene and safety protocols.
What to Expect During an Acupuncture Session
During an acupuncture session for tension headaches, you can expect the following:
- Consultation: Your practitioner will ask you about your headache history, overall health, palpation, brushing, and any specific symptoms you’re experiencing. Together you will unweave your headache story to bring to light the best methods of treatment.
- Needle Insertion: Thin needles will be inserted into your body. You might feel a slight tingling sensation, but it can actually be painless. Your practitioner will walk you through each needle insertion trying to identify the best way to make the needle insertion process comfortable and relaxing for you. The needles are typically retained for 15 – 30 minutes. You’ll have a button to press in case you need anything while you relax.
- Additional Therapies: Before or after you receive an acupuncture treatment your provider will apply additional methods of treatment like massage (tuina / gua sha) , the application of heat (moxibustion) and the use of herbal formulas internally or externally..
- Follow-Up: Depending on your condition, you may need several sessions over a few weeks for the best results. For most patients your headache on that day will be relieved at your first visit. Follow-up treatments are useful to reduce the frequency of headaches. Remember, tension headaches didn’t develop for you overnight and they won’t leave long term that quickly either.
While acupuncture for tension headaches can be a quick fix, it also can help long term to reduce your headache frequency. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment, especially if you have underlying medical conditions. At our office, we will also investigate your triggers to develop an at home care plan. This is designed to keep headaches from returning at home.
About the Author
Dr. Mark VanOtterloo has been an acupuncturist since 2012 working with patients with chronic pain / disease. He has helped numerous patients with chronic tension headaches both to reduce the headache that day and frequency long term. If you have chronic tension headaches you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark VanOtterloo below.
Want Help With Your Tension Headaches?
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Curious about me? Maybe we haven’t met yet. You can learn more about Dr. Mark VanOtterloo DAOM by using the link provided. Thanks for considering us as your partner in health!
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