Managing Chronic Tension Headaches with Acupuncture
Headaches... it seems everyone gets them, and that lasting relief is hard to find. Acupuncture has a long and proven history at alleviating headaches and greatly reducing their intensity and frequency. The most common headaches I see in my office are called tension headaches, or—more correctly—tension-type headaches. The powers that be stuck the “type” in after realizing tension headaches aren't necessarily caused by tension and muscle contractions. Up to 78 percent of us suffer from tension headaches, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The generally accepted benchmark for “chronic” is getting headaches 15 or more days per month for at least several months.
Treating Your Chronic Tension Headaches
Identifying personal triggers is key to managing tension headaches. Keep a headache journal, noting when pain starts and stops, what you were doing when it began, and what you recently ate. Sometimes, avoiding triggers is enough to prevent headaches.
Unfortunately, eliminating chronic tension headaches isn't usually so simple. There are plenty of natural, healthful steps to take instead of going for a pharmacological solution. Start with general positive lifestyle improvements. Get enough sleep, quit smoking if applicable (if you’re having trouble with either of these - acupuncture and herbal solutions can help), stick to whole foods, and get cardiovascular exercise daily. Also, talk to me or another or other qualified practitioner about improving your posture and beneficial neck stretches.
Relaxation techniques loosen you up and reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation, yoga, qigong, t'ai chi, deep breathing, biofeedback... pick your pleasure. I find incorporating massage in each treatment helps beat the recurring pain, too. Upper body massage work significantly reduces the frequency of tension headaches and tends to shorten those that occur.
Herbal remedies work well for many individuals. Topical peppermint oil or tiger balm are often used. Feverfew and butterbur are also worth trying. Chinese formulas work to alleviate the pain and treat the underlying condition that is causing the pain. Homeopathic treatments are great for chronic tension headaches, I sometimes prescribe belladonna, bryonia, gelsemium, ignatia, iris versicolor, lachesis, nux vomica, pulsatilla, sanguinaria, spigelia, or another homeopathic remedy may be appropriate for you.
Acupuncture provides excellent results; it relieves tension, anxiety, and stress. It also soothes inflammation and addresses the underlying issues of chronic tension-type headaches. Acupuncture also resolves deep-seated problems to enhance wellness. Where the pain is focused (and even the time of day it occurs) can also gives the practitioner a clue as to which organ systems may need attention. For example if your pain is located on your temples or on the crown of your head this directs me to different causes of your pain. Often a headache treatment’s focus is on meridians associated with the kidneys, liver, and gallbladder (but not always). Buy understanding root cause, acupuncture practitioners and using Chinese Medicine theories can provide a level of relief that would otherwise be very difficult to achieve.
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