Headaches and migraines are two of the conditions that patients most commonly present with in general practice. Treating it costs the NHS millions of pounds each year. 60% of sufferers have to take time off work because of their symptoms.
NICE recommends acupuncture
Acupuncture has a reliable reputation for treating many painful conditions. Many patients have benefited from treatment and there is increasing research evidence to support their experiences.
The combination of patients’ experience and clinical evidence also supports the use of acupuncture for treating persistent headaches and migraines (see ‘NICE recommends acupuncture’).
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine looks at your illness ‘holistically’, that is, in the context of your life. How you live your life, the food you eat, the work you do, the stress you are under, all these are considered to be as important as your symptoms and what is going on in your body to cause these symptoms.
These other elements, stress, work, food, affect your body in subtle yet powerful ways, and can upset the normal flow of ‘energy’ (qi) and cause pain and discomfort. For instance, research has shown that the primary factor in setting off the majority of migraines is tiredness, lack of food or both.
By identifying what elements are influencing your energetic flow, I can set about remedying the anomalies, partly with treatment, but also with guidance and advice.
Tackling the underlying problem
Traditional acupuncture is effective because the treatment is designed to tackle the underlying ‘energetic’ disturbances that cause the migraine, as well as the local symptoms.
Typically, needles are inserted in the scalp, the neck, the hands and the feet. In addition, as has been mentioned already, it is important to identify any predisposing factors, such as diet or stress. As the symptoms improve, you can begin to take control and manage these predisposing factors so that they have less effect.
A strategy for prevention
While acupuncture is helpful in dealing with the symptoms of migraine, management of the factors involved in inducing the migraine in the first place can be important in prevention. Many people have an inherited disposition to migraine. However, relaxation techniques for stress reduction, careful management of diet, including coffee and alcohol intake, appropriate exercise and techniques for 'pacing yourself', can all have a significant effect. Where any or all of these are identified as factors in your migraine, managing them can become part of a programme of treatment.
Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraine
Acupuncture and migraines
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