Have you been struggling with headaches or migraines? Headaches are, quite literally, a pain in the head. They can range in intensity from mildly annoying to debilitating. As the third most prevalent illness worldwide, headaches are serious business. If you’ve ever had a bad one you can understand the need to find effective headache relief. Have you tried medication and are unhappy with their effects or side-effects? We offer a natural approach to treating headache and migraine in Calgary.
Classification of Headaches
There are various types of headaches. Primary headaches are those where the headache is the disease. Secondary headaches are those where the headache is a symptom of another condition. For example headaches can be a symptom of the flu. They could also be secondary to a concussion. Primary headaches include migraine, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.
A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.
A tension-type headache (TTH) is generally a mild to moderate pain. It’s often described as feeling like a tight band around the head. A tension-type headache is the most common type of headache.
Cluster headaches, which occur in cyclical patterns or cluster periods, are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain around one eye or on one side of your head. They are often characterised by bouts of frequent attacks (known as cluster periods) followed by periods of remission where no headaches occur.
There are other types of primary headache, but these are the most common. Concerned that your headache is more severe than these? Check out the infographic at the bottom of the page to help determine when to seek medical help for your headache.
Migraines in Calgary
Migraines are recurring headaches causing moderate to severe pain. Those who suffer from migraines tend to experience throbbing or pulsing pain, often starting on one side of the head. You may be sensitive to light and sound, and your migraines may cause nausea and vomiting. They can occur only occasionally or happen several times a month.
While anyone can experience a migraine, most researchers believe that there is a genetic cause to them. Women are three times more likely than men to experience migraines, and your risk goes up if you have relatives who also suffer. Triggers can include stress, anxiety, certain foods, hormonal changes in women, medication, lack of sleep, or too much sleep, or sudden weather or environmental changes.
There can be several phases to a migraine headache, with most patients recognizing signs that a migraine is imminent. Some describe a sensory disturbance called aura that can include seeing flashing lights or bright spots before the headache begins. The headache phase can bring debilitating pain, nausea, and weakness and can last up to 72 hours. Afterward, you may feel weak and tired. The cycle can be draining and interfere with daily functioning and quality of life.
What to Expect from your Headache Treatment
In your first appointment, we’ll do an assessment and take a history of your headaches to determine any imbalances in the body contributing to your headaches. Next we’ll come up with a treatment plan. This first appointment will take about 75 minutes and will include your first treatment. Some clients report immediate symptomatic relief right from their first visit. This will be temporary as it takes multiple treatments to achieve long lasting results. Every treatment plan is unique but a typical first course of acupuncture will include 1 or 2 treatments per week for the first month or two, then slowly decreasing the frequency so long as you remain headache free.
Treatment of Migraine & Headaches
The treatment of headaches is not very straightforward considering that there are many possible causes of the problem. We will begin by doing a thorough assessment to determine the type and cause of your headaches. Once we know the cause of the problem we will suggest one or more of our many options to find you relief. Acupuncture, massage, exercises, dietary changes and herbal medicines are some of the tools we can use to treat your headaches.
- Research has found that acupuncture can provide headache relief by reducing both the frequency and severity of headaches.
- Acupuncture and cupping therapy can help reduce muscle tension and improve overall blood flow through the upper back and neck.
Acupuncture for Headache Relief
I understand that embarking on a therapy plan can be scary. Particularly if you have never experienced acupuncture before. Unlike medications, natural therapies can take time to work. So, how does acupuncture for headaches work?
- Symptom Relief: Have a bad headache? Try to get in for a visit right away. Treatment can reduce your headache without the need for medications.
- Prevention: A series of treatments can work to create balance in the body and reduce both the number and severity of headaches experienced. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole. First, we will work together to determine what are your headache triggers (stress, hormones, allergies, food sensitivities, etc.). Secondly, we’ll work to reduce the triggers leading to less headache days.
Check out these blog posts for further reading. Learn how acupuncture can help reduce migraines and some steps you can take to help control your headaches.
- Migraine Relief: the benefits of acupuncture in reducing frequency and severity of migraines.
- Control Your Headaches: some simple steps to help reduce the effects of headaches on your daily life.
- Headache diaries: https://migrainecanada.org/diaries/