Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines, Melbourne North East
What is a Headache?
Headaches can be a right pain. Most people have one over their lifetime but regular or debilitating headaches can be hard to live with. On the Headache Australia website, there are 36 different types of headaches identified. Some of them easier to prevent or treat than others and severe, sudden headaches need to be assessed by a medical doctor.
Below are some of the categories of more commonly occurring headaches…
- ‘Normal’ headaches such as an overwork headache (excessive nerve stimulation), ice-cream headache, dehydration or fasting headache, rebound headache, exercise headaches and cough headache.
- Recurring headaches that include tension-type headache, migraine and cluster headache.
- ‘Nerve’ headaches that are produced by direct irritation or compression of the nerves supplying the head, face, or neck such as trigeminal neuralgia, neuralgia after shingles, atypical face pain, pain from the eye, sinusitis, head pain caused from your teeth, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and a neck headache.
- Muscle-contraction headaches.
- Medication-misuse headaches.
Whilst the brain itself cannot feel pain, the layers covering the brain and their larger blood vessels can transmit painful experiences via their nerve fibres. A headache is often irritation of the structures within the head and upper neck, e.g., eyes, ears, nasal sinuses, skin, muscle, joints and arteries (which can also be quite pain sensitive). So any dysfunction in any of these structures may be experienced in the form of a headache.
When there is irritation from chemical, mechanical or inflammatory mechanisms a ‘pain’ message is sent to the brain from the sensitive nerve fibres. This is why sometimes it is hard to distinguish the cause of a headache as the brain cannot always tell where the pain message originated from.
What is a Migraine?
A Migraine is often a pulsating or one-sided throbbing headache that can be quite intense and can be aggravated by physical activity. Some people find that their migraines are accompanied by nausea or vomiting and a sensitivity to light, smell or sound. Some people experience Vestibular Migraines which also have a balance component to them.
How many people do Headaches and Migraines affect in Australia?
There have been no major studies in this field in Australia to gauge statistics but it is estimated that there are three million a migraine and seven million tension-type headache sufferers in Australia. About 15% of Australians will suffer from a migraine at some time. It can affect children and adults of any age but more commonly those between the ages of 35-45ys. Women tend to have more severe and longer lasting migraines being affected by hormones and the changes that their bodies go through. A tension-type headache is also more common in women.
According to the World Health Report in 2000 “A large part of the population have mild and infrequent tension-type headache (once monthly or less), with 20-30% experiencing headache episodes more often. Nearly all migraine sufferers and 60% of those with a tension-type headache experiencing reductions in social activities and work capacity. Despite this, both the public and the majority of healthcare professionals tend to perceive a headache as a minor or trivial complaint. As a result, the physical, emotional, and economic burdens of a headache are poorly acknowledged in comparison with those of other, less prevalent, neurological disorders”. (1)
What are the symptoms and triggers of Headaches and Migraines?
The symptoms can be so varied but anyone who has had a pain in the head knows that it can be very frustrating, debilitating and affect your day to day activities. Some of the exacerbating causes can be:
- Hormonal Change– many women experience extreme headaches beforehand or during their periods. Migraines become more common after the onset of puberty and gradually decrease after menopause.
- Eating Habits– A major trigger of migraines is often the food we eat. Some common triggers of a migraine are alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and fermented foods.
- Other Causes– Stress, tension, work pressure and sleeping disorders may also lead to a severe headache and nausea.
How are headaches and migraines diagnosed?
Many people who come to the clinic have been to see their GP and been diagnosed with either or both of these conditions, some have seen specialists and had CT or MRI scans of their head and or neck. Your acupuncturist will always work in conjunction with your GP and specialists.
How does Chinese Medicine view headaches and migraines?
When you come for an acupuncture treatment Kim will feel your pulse and have a look at your tongue (this can tell us a lot about your health), there will also be a lot of discussion about your current and past signs and symptoms. In Chinese Medicine, the position of your headache (frontal, side, top, back of the head, sinus area) can tell us a great deal about where your body may be out of balance. Any associated symptoms are very important, as is your current mental, emotional and physical health.
What is the current research status of Acupuncture for migraines and headaches?
Chinese medical acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of conditions, however, not all of these conditions have a high standard of evidence of efficacy. Australian national law requires claims of the efficacy of treatment to be made with reference to evidence of a high standard. For this reason, I have quoted and provided recent studies that have evidence of efficacy for using acupuncture for headaches and migraines.
You are welcome to view the Acupuncture Evidence Project for in-depth details about the research efficacy.
Acupuncture for the prevention of a tension-type headache.
Found that the results available suggest that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27092807
Acupuncture for the prevention of an episodic migraine.
The available evidence suggests that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches. The available trials also suggest that acupuncture may be at least similarly effective as treatment with prophylactic drugs. Acupuncture can be considered a treatment option for patients willing to undergo this treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27351677
Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment or Prevention of Migraine, Tension-Type Headache, or Chronic Headache Disorders.
Here the evidence from clinical trials and meta-analyses is in support of a potentially important role for acupuncture as part of a treatment plan for patients with a migraine, tension-type headache, and several different types of chronic headache disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27411557
Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention.
Acupuncture is as effective as conventional drug preventative therapy for migraine and is safe, long lasting, and cost-effective. This intervention may prompt lifestyle changes that could be valuable in patients’ recovery.
The effectiveness of preventive and treatment interventions for primary headaches in the workplace: A systematic review of the literature.
Although this systematic review is based on acupuncture in the workplace it still suggests that exercise and acupuncture can reduce workers’ headache pain intensity, frequency and related disability. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26935099
What is involved in an Acupuncture session?
In an initial consultation, there is a lot of discussions so that you as an individual can be assessed, questions are always encouraged. Tiny acupuncture needles (thinner than a hair follicle) are inserted into specific acupuncture points and then you are encouraged to rest. Many patients fall asleep or into a deep state of relaxation.
A follow up sessions involves a quick assessment and discussion prior to the treatment and then you are left to relax and rest. Many patients enjoy the ease of attending the community acupuncture sessions where they can have a 30-minute appointment for $40 as part of their treatment plan. Helping you RENEW your health sooner.
What other modalities may be included in my session?
Can I claim insurance for an Acupuncture session?
Yes most major health fund rebates are claimable on the spot after your treatment.
Is there anything I should do before or after my acupuncture session?
Ensuring that you don’t come to the appointment with an empty stomach is great. And refraining from coffee and alcohol after the treatment is also advised. Drinking lots of water is a recommendation after any session.
Sometimes Kim will give you specific acupressure points on the body to perform acupressure on in the days between treatments to keep the effects of the treatment potent.
What is the easiest way to book my acupuncture session?
Click the book online button and it will take you to the online booking system where you can easily book a time. Please call the clinic on 03 9077 7307 if you have any questions regarding the treatment, you condition or to see if acupuncture could be right for you.
Book your acupuncture appointment in Melbourne North East and RENEW your health today.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION REPORT. Headache Disorders and Public Health, Education and Management Implications World Health Organisation, Geneva, WHO/MSD/MBD/00.9, Sept 2000
Headache Australia Website.