On the back of our recent blog Acupuncture - The Basics, this new 4 part series will look at things you didn’t know Acupuncture could help with! In part 1 of this 4 part series we will look at Headaches.
Headaches are complicated.
There are many reasons people may suffer with headaches and many different problems for which headaches may be a symptom.
When a lot of us have had a headache that lasts more than a day or so, we immediately turn to ‘Doctor Google’ and panic diagnose ourselves – ‘I must have a brain tumour!’ Headaches can be a symptom of a serious pathology, but this is incredibly rare. One UK study surveyed 7,000 patients over a 10-year period and found that problems were only serious or life threatening in 0.0003% of cases.
The majority of headaches are classified as tension type with no one specific cause of the headaches - and though they can be, they are not always linked with ‘tension of the neck and shoulder muscles’ as once presumed. Other common headache classifications include: Cervicogenic (related to the neck), Migrainous, Temporomandibular (Jaw) related and many, many more. There are well over 100 classifications which are available to view here if you are interested: https://www.ichd-3.org/classification-outline/
The huge number of potential causes of headaches, means that it can be very difficult to find an effective treatment for your headaches. The good news however, is that as a Physiotherapist we can help you.
A medical professional such as our Physiotherapists will be able to guide you through an in-depth assessment of your symptoms and advise you on the appropriate classification and causes of your headache. Although there are many classifications, there are a few very common factors which influence people's headaches. Some of these include; stress (chemical changes in the body as a result), lack of sleep, dehydration and postural factors which can be related to muscle tightness.
Acupuncture can be a useful tool to help improve the symptoms of headaches and also treating the cause of the headaches in the first place. Acupuncture works by ‘desensitising the nervous system’ which becomes extra sensitive in patients with persistent pain such as chronic headaches. It works by activating parts of the brain and getting them to release pain relieving chemicals into the spinal cord which eases pain and reduces symptoms. Your Acupuncture session should be painless and used as part of an ongoing treatment plan to help you reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.