It is estimated that between 5% and 10% of people never experience headaches in their lives. For the rest of us, however, having a headache is a common occurrence. While some people can function despite their headaches, others simply cannot. Interestingly enough, headaches appear to be as different as the people who have them. The western medicine classifies headache into four types of primary headaches, which include migraine, tension-type headache, trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, and “other primary headache disorders,” and the secondary headaches, which are too many to list, and neuropathies & facial pains and other headache disorders (The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition).
In traditional Chinese medicine, headaches are classified according to organ imbalances that cause them. And while the headache locations, as well as the nature of pain, suggest which organ may be involved, establishing the right diagnosis is an art form. At the same time, many research studies examined the effects of same (usually, classical) point combinations (Du 20, GB 20, He Gu, Lv 3, UB 10, etc.), and they still consistently show the success of acupuncture for a headache. Traditionally, point selection needs to depend on the carefully identified diagnosis. For example, using classical point combinations may work temporarily if acupuncture is used for an occipital headache that is caused by hypertension or not at all if the cause of pain is sinusitis or nerve entrapment in the neck (although, acupuncture can effectively treat sinus headache and a pinched nerve if properly diagnosed). Acupuncture for headaches during pregnancy can be effective with minimal side effects. Acupuncture for headaches in NYC or any other large city often concentrates on stress relief, rather than the headache itself. Some patients experience lightheadedness together with headaches. Acupuncture for lightheadedness can be effective, but even more so than the headache, the treatment needs to concentrate on the causes of the lightheadedness, rather than simply focusing on masking the symptoms.
What’s so different about headache acupuncture treatment in NYC is that many New Yorkers often cannot take time off work and they are expected to work well despite their headaches. That’s one of the reasons why painkillers have been so popular. To make acupuncture accessible to the majority of New Yorkers, the Advanced Holistic Center has several locations throughout Manhattan, and it is open longer hours than many other acupuncture clinics in NYC.
Is Acupuncture Good for Headaches?
Many research studies and scientific reviews have confirmed that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of headaches as the primary treatment option (Justo et al., 2017; Linde et al., 2016) as well as complementary modality (Mayrink et al., 2018).
Does Acupuncture Work for Chronic Headaches?
Yes, acupuncture reduces the frequency and intensity of headaches (Justo et al., 2017; Linde et al., 2016).
Does Acupuncture Help with Tension Headaches?
Yes, it does. The only issue with using acupuncture for tension headaches is that addressing the causes of tension headaches can be challenging, because they are usually linked to the lifestyle, such as stress at work or home. And if those causes are not resolved, at least partially, they are likely to come back.
Where Are Acupuncture Needles Placed for Headache Treatment?
While a few needles can be placed in the head, face, back, or abdomen, the most important points in acupuncture for migraine headaches are located between knees and feet and between elbows and hands.