Acupuncture for Headaches
Headaches come in many shapes and sizes. Tension, migraine, cluster, thunderclap. Apparently, there are 17 different types of headaches in all. What connects them all is the overwhelming feeling of pain and the potential to cause nausea, vomiting and general interference with daily life.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we ask the what, where, when, why and how to get to the root of the problem. What's the quality of the pain? Where is it located? When did it start? When does it occur? What makes it better? What makes it worse? Does emotion play a factor?
We also ask about menstrual cycles, foods that you eat, and the company that you keep. These things may seem completely unrelated, but in TCM your responses are absolutely relevant. Answering these questions as accurately as possible helps us acupuncturists deduce where the imbalance lies within the meridian system, whether it be a deficiency or an excess condition.
I personally like to approach an illness from multiple directions. Especially in the case of headaches, I utilize Tong Ren. This system focuses on blockages at the juncture where the spinal nerves leave the spinal cord. Removing these blockages allows qi (or energy) to flow back to the 'sick' organs. In the case of headaches, there are usually blockages where the neck meets the head. Needles, tui na massage and gwa sha are necessary tools in getting qi to flow again.
Last but not least is open dialogue with the patient. Discussing their lifestyle choices, sleep patterns, diet and meditation practices helps them look for the messages their bodies are already showing them. Recognizing these potential underlying causes, things that can easily be changed, is the first step in tackling future headaches.