Headaches & Migraines

Headaches & Migraines

Headaches and migraines are common ailments for people seeking relief through acupuncture. This is especially true with Calgary’s unique climate and barometric pressure changes (Chinook headaches). Common reasons for headaches are: hormonal fluctuations, accumulated stress, and suppressed emotions, hypertension, poor eating habits, and lack of exercise, barometric pressure changes, and muscle tension.

Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes, have been treated successfully with acupuncture and eastern medicine for thousands of years. Acupuncture and eastern medicine can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Often, western medicine prescribes pain killers for recurrent headaches, but does not address the underlying issues that may cause the headaches. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), we try to look at where the body is out of balance and how that is contributing to the cause of the recurring headaches. Because everyone is unique in their presentation, it is important to look at the whole person, their constitution, lifestyle, stresses in life, diet. etc. This allows the practitioner to see where the patient is out of balance and how to go about correcting the imbalance.

Eastern medicine does not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques such as acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables including:

Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your
When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?
Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for eastern medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is called “Qi” (pronounced “chee”). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to eastern medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary from person to person. Typical treatments last from 30 to 45 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some headaches, migraines, and related symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.