Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines

facial acupuncture

The Difference between a Headache and a Migraine

We use acupuncture to treat people for headaches and migraines every day at our Edmonton clinic. Common tension headaches are often associated with upper back and neck tension, or temple or facial tension. Migraines are more complex and severe headaches that have triggers unique to each individual. They result in vascular (blood vessel) spasms in the brain itself and can be debilitating. They may be associated with intense throbbing head pain on one or both sides of the head, sound or light sensitivity, visual auras, nausea, and many other symptoms unique to each individual.

Read about Migraine’s from American Migraine Foundation

Acupuncture is a Good Alternative to Drugs for Treating Headaches and Migraines

There currently is no real cure for chronic migraines. Doctors prescribe medications to prevent and treat them, and botox injections are now more commonly used with some success. Both migraines and common tension headaches, can be managed very effectively through identifying triggers, modifying lifestyle and using medications and other therapies – such as acupuncture! Our skilled and compassionate practitioners can help you gain some control over your headaches through our customized treatment plans.

Read the Cochrane Reiview Article on Migraines

Research has shown that a course of 3-8 acupuncture treatments can cut the frequency of migraines in half and that the benefits can last as long as 6 months following treatment. The conclusion in this review was that acupuncture was at least as effective as drugs used to prevent migraines, but without the significant side-effects of these drugs.

Our Approach in Acupuncture

To begin your treatment, our practitioners will assess the history and the nature of your headaches or migraines, as well as investigate holistically – taking you into account as a whole person – what factors in your life might be contributing to the headaches.

A customized acupuncture treatment plan will be developed that can relieve the headaches or migraines; clients usually respond by feeling a complete, whole body relaxation and stress relief. Over the course of treatments, we focus on other health factors that may be related to triggering the headaches. The initial acupuncture treatments usually reduce the frequency and severity of headaches; this change naturally makes it easier to identify specific changes in your daily life to best prevent headaches and migraines in the long term. 

Read Gord’s Blog on Tracking – The Last Straw Illusion

After we progress to where headaches come less often, you are in a better position to pay attention to the small cues that a headache may be coming. This is why we give tracking homework to help identify the triggers in between treatment sessions. We believe that integrating self-awareness and lifestyle change into the treatment plan is key to creating positive and lasting change.  

How Many Acupuncture Sessions Will I Need?

The number of acupuncture sessions needed to see improvement and lasting freedom from headaches and migraines varies with the individual. Acupuncture works cumulatively, that is, each session builds on the previous one. Generally speaking, a minimum of three treatments is needed in order to create noticeable improvements.

The initial treatments allow us to do some detective work with you to figure out what works best and tailor the treatment plan as needed.  As long as there is steady progress with treatments, especially when drugs have not been adequate, most clients with chronic headaches or migraines are very inspired to continue.  Even after becoming headache-free, many of our clients come back from time to time for prevention treatments.  Especially so if they experience the return of a former trigger or circumstances that had contributed to the headaches.

Read Gord’s Blog on Headaches and Migraines with Client Testimonials

Our acupuncture practitioners are very skilled at creating customized treatment plans that work to relieve headaches and migraines – not just temporarily – but also to prevent them from returning over the months following treatments. The majority of our clients see a clear reduction in frequency and intensity of their headaches, and many become headache-free over time after following our treatment plans. 

Read FAQs about Acupuncture