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Acupuncture for Chronic Migraine and Headache

Chronic Migraine and Headache Disorders

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  • Nearly 10 million people in the United States suffer from regular migraine headaches; and 40% of people in North America have occasional migraines.
  • On average, 55% of migraine sufferers miss two workdays per month. In addition, 88% of sufferers work more than five days per month despite having a migraine.
  • Approximately 85% of female migraine sufferers and 77% of male migraine sufferers see a physician at some point for their migraine headaches.
  • In the United States, headaches cost an estimated $50 billion each year. The cost to business in lost productivity is approximately $6 billion to $17 billion a year.
Various forms of headache, properly called headache disorders, are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. They are pandemic and, in many cases, life-long conditions.
Headache itself is a painful and often disabling feature of a relatively small number of primary headache disorders. It also occurs secondarily to a considerable number of other conditions. A wide range of headache types have been classified in detail by the International Headache Society. The most common among them – tension-type headache (TTH), migraine, cluster headache and the so-called chronic daily headache syndromes – cause substantial levels of disability. Headache has been and continues to be underestimated in scope and scale, and headache disorders remain under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world.
Acupuncture can effectively relieve headaches; migraines, tension headaches, headaches occurring around the menstrual cycle, sinus headaches and stress-related headaches, as well as treat their underlying causes. In fact, headaches are one of the conditions most commonly seen in acupuncture clinics today. It can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Mostly used points and Patterns of Headache at Tao of Medicine

According to where the pain is located, what makes it worse and the characteristics of pain, I carefully choose the acupuncture points; here I will introduce the two main patterns of headache most common and well treated in my clinics.

  1. Chronic Migraine – vascular type related to hormonal imbalance in women related to menstruation, stress, thyroid issues, in meridian system, the blockage or stagnation occur in Liver and Gallbladder.
    Acupuncture Points – GB 8, GB 43, GB 37(light sensitivity), LV2,3, DU20 with local pain spots.
  2. Tension headache (in particular, suboccipital and forehead involving the muscle tenderness or stiffness around the neck, shoulder and face, TMJ)
    Acupuncture Points – Local pain spots, ST44, 36, ST6, ST8, yindang, GB20, 21, UB 10, Linggu, Dabai(master tong’s), LI20
Results: although person by person, the effectiveness is immediate, if diagnosis is right, and acupuncture treatment also prevents recurrence.
Available studies suggest that acupuncture is at least as effective as, or possibly more effective than prophylactic drug treatment, and has fewer adverse effects. Acupuncture should be considered a treatment option for patients willing to undergo this treatment.-acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD001218

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