Banging your head against a wall seems in any situation like a bad idea. However if you know anything about migraines or chronic headaches you understand the madness that can overcome you. You are willing to do almost anything for a moments respite from the pounding, nausea and a brain that only speaks in single tortured syllables.
Depending on the severity they can significantly affect your quality of life, capacity to work, relationships and day to day function. Chronic and debilitating pain can also have an effect on mental health and in some cases resulting in severe depression.
What defines a migraine?
The International Headache society defines a migraine as at least two of the following symptoms:
- one sided headache
- moderate to severe pain
- aggravated by movement
And at least one of the following:
- light sensitivity (photophobia)
- noise sensitivity (phonophobia)
And the headache lasts for between 4 and 72 hours
Additional migraine symptoms might include:
- sensitivity to smell (osmophobia)
- visual disturbance (aura) such as blurring, zigzag lines, flashing lights or blind spots for 20-45 minutes
- difficulty concentrating, confusion
- difficulty with speech or co-ordination
- stiff neck and shoulders
- tingling, pins and needles or numbness
- paralysis loss of consciousness
What can you do to help with Migraine and chronic headaches?
Well the most common approach to managing headaches and migraine is pain relief medication. However more recently there has been some significant findings with regard to the potential negative effects of short and long term use of a range of pain relief medications.
Can acupuncture help headache and migraine pain?
Good question. A recent review (1) has shown positive effect in managing symptoms associated with migraine and chronic headaches. Acupuncture seems to be at least as effective as conventional preventative medication in reducing migraine frequency (2-4) and the most recent Cochrane systematic review update confirmed that acupuncture is effective for frequent episodic and chronic tension-type headaches (5). Another review (6) also suggests the importance acupuncture has as part of a treatment plan for migraine, tension-type headache, and several different types of chronic headache disorders.
What other ways can help headache and migraine pain relief?
In many cases lifestyle issues while maybe not the cause of the problem can have a significant impact on the severity of pain and other symptoms associated with headaches and migraines.
Posture – Sitting at a computer for long periods of time will inevitably lead to problems with posture. These can create neck and shoulder tension that may contribute to your pain. Repetitive actions or long periods in poor posture can also lead to weakening of the muscles that support your head and neck. Appropriate advice as to improving your strength, reducing your tension and better positioning during activity can significantly reduce factors that contribute to pain.
Inflammation – Many factors contribute to inflammation in the body, which can lead to an increase in pain. Areas like diet, stress, increased weight, smoking, poor sleep and alcohol consumption can increase your inflammation. Learning how to manage these factors can help with pain relief and long term pain management.
What do we do at Evolve Natural Medicine?
At Evolve we look to more than just the symptoms. By working with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, nutrition, diet exercise and lifestyle advice our aim is to not only help you feel better but to make sure you stay that way.
- McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). © Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, 2017: http://www.acupuncture.org.au.
- Da Silva AN. Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache. 2015 Mar;55(3):470-3.
- Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Vertosick EA, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016(6):Cd001218.
- Yang Y, Que Q, Ye X, Zheng G. Verum versus sham manual acupuncture for migraine: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Acupunct Med. 2016 Apr;34(2):76-83.
- Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Shin BC, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;4:Cd007587.
- Coeytaux RR, Befus D. Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment or Prevention of Migraine, Tension-Type Headache, or Chronic Headache Disorders. Headache. 2016 Jul;56(7):1238-40.
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