Acupuncture is superior to medication therapy for headaches. Acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture (fake acupuncture or placebo) in reducing headache intensity and frequency. More people respond to acupuncture than to medication. These are the conclusions of this massive systematic review, which included 31 studies on acupuncture for chronic headache, including migraine and tension-type headache. This high-quality study was conducted by Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, USA and published in the current issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia.
Researchers at University of Leeds, UK, have found a direct neural connection between neck muscles and a part of the brain stem (called the nucleus tractus solitarius), which plays a crucial role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure. (The Journal of Neuroscience)
This finding could explain why blood pressure and heart rate sometimes change when the neck muscles are injured – through whiplash, for example. Similarly, it is possible that hours spent hunched over a computer may raise blood pressure.
Tense neck muscles also can be a cause of headaches and migraines.
If your neck muscles are tense, I urge you to address this:
1. Stretch regularly, observe your posture
2. Get your partner to massage your shoulders frequently
3. Acupuncture (has long term effect relaxing neck muscles)
4. Gentle manipulation (to correct the posture and to prevent the muscles tensing up)
A combination of physical exercise, relaxation training, and acupuncture provide long-lasting improvements for patients with chronic tension-type headaches. This is the conclusion of Swedish study published in the current issue of the journal Cephalalgia.
Frequent use of pain medications can lead to chronic headaches. This is why it is important that analgesics are discontinued as a first step in treating tension headaches.
I’ve treated lots of patients suffering from headaches over the years and have combined acupuncture, gentle manual therapy and sometimes exercise with most of the patients. It is comforting to know that what I find most effective in practice is being confirmed by the research.
More on acupuncture and headaches:
Acupuncture and migraines: a new conclusive study
Acupuncture pain relief
Acupuncture for headaches and neck pain
Laser acupuncture can make a significant difference for tension headache
Acupuncture Relieves Chronic Headache
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