Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines

Tension-type headaches (muscle-contraction headaches)

  • Recurrent headaches lasting from 30 minutes to 7 days.
  • A dull pressure type of pain, which is mild or moderate in severity.
  • Pain is located on both sides of the head.
  • Mild or moderate intensity (may inhibit but does not prohibit activities).
  • No nausea or vomiting.
  • The most common type of headache. Many individuals will experience this type of headache once in a while.

Migraine headaches (vascular headaches)

  • Population-based studies have consistently shown that approximately 18% of women and 6% of men suffer from migraine in the United States.
  • Pain can be so intense that it interferes with one’s physical ability to function, sometimes requiring bed rest.
  • Patients experience pulsating or throbbing types of pain. The pain is limited to one side of the head, however, in about a third of patients, it is bilateral.
  • May be associated with nausea and/or vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light, noise, and/or odors.
  • Some patients experience auras prior to the onset of a migraine (the headache sufferer sees little flashes of light, waves of lights, or changes in their vision). An aura is a neurological symptom that typically develops gradually over a period of several (5-20) minutes.

Read more about acupuncture and migraine headache

 Acupuncture Points used for Migraine Headaches

Acupuncture Points used for migraine, TMJ pain etc. - Needles inserted side of head

Acupuncture and Migraine Headaches – New Research from the BMJ

Information published online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic (migraine) headaches.

The clinical study involved a randomized, control study of 401 participants over a period of 3 months, where half the participants were either assigned to an acupuncture treatment group or to the control group which consisted of standard medical treatment, including medication. The acupuncture group received a series of 12 treatments. The study found that those in the acupuncture treatment group used 15 per cent less medication, made 25 per cent fewer visits to their medical doctors and 15 per cent had fewer sick days. The long term effects of the acupuncture treatment also appeared to continue even after acupuncture treatments had stopped, as researchers noted that the acupuncture group was less likely to have had headaches for up to a year after the trial.

Selected Controlled Trials of Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines