Headaches are a common complaint and cause of distress among many people of all ages. There are various types of headaches that can range from mild to severe.  Some of the most common include tension headaches, migraines and sinus headaches.

Tension headaches are probably the most common type, with more than 70% of people reporting having experienced one at some point in their life.  Migraines have been reported as affecting around 37 million Americans.  Sinus headaches can be present in those suffering from hay fever or allergies.  Regardless of the type, headaches can cause debilitating pain, making it important for people to understand the difference between them and recognize the signs and symptoms so they can seek appropriate treatment.

East Asian Medicine (EAM) correlates each part of the body with a specific meridian or energetic pathway.  This means that when there are imbalances in the body, certain meridians can be affected.  When these meridians are irritated, they can influence and trigger headaches.  It is through the meridian system that acupuncturists access the energy and why it is not necessary to needle in the exact area of the pain. This ability to work away from the problem is why acupuncture can be such a safe and gentle form of pain treatment.

Tension headaches are typically located in the forehead or around the temples and can feel like a tight band is being squeezed around the head.  Migraines often cause a throbbing sensation that can range from mild to severe and can move between different areas of the head such as the temples, back of neck and eyes.  Sinus headaches usually affect pressure points near your nose or eyes and may be accompanied by congestion or discharge from your nose.  Regardless of where it originates, acupuncture can offer a lot of relief through the use of meridian theory and manipulation.

Tension headaches and migraines linked to the gallbladder channel are typically felt on the sides of the head or at the back of the neck. Imbalances in this energetic pathway can manifest through physical symptoms such as headaches, sensitivity to cold or nausea, as well as psychological symptoms like indecisiveness or fearfulness.

Headaches can also be linked to the liver channel.  These headaches are typically felt on the temples and forehead. Imbalances in this energetic pathway can manifest through physical symptoms such as headaches in one or both sides of the head, dizziness or blurred vision, as well as psychological symptoms like irritability or excessive worrying.

Frontal sinus headaches are often linked to the bladder channel in EAM.  These headaches may be characterized by intense pain above and around the eyes, as well as sensitivity to changes in weather pressure. Other common symptoms of imbalance along this energetic pathway include earaches, sore throat, dizziness or poor memory.

Headaches and migraines linked to the stomach channel are typically felt at the top of the head or around the eyes. Imbalances in this energetic pathway can manifest through physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea or indigestion, as well as psychological symptoms like low self-esteem or difficulty concentrating.

No matter where the headache is felt, meridian theory can help your acupuncturist address the pain.  Because meridian theory forms the foundation of acupuncture and allows practitioners to approach treatment holistically, you will always get help addressing underlying imbalances rather than just treating the symptoms.  This understanding enables acupuncturists to effectively treat both headaches and migraines using distal points that may not be in the area of pain itself.  By addressing the root causes of headaches and migraines, acupuncture offers a safe, effective and drug free alternative to conventional treatments.  If you suffer from headaches or migraines, we encourage you to explore how acupuncture can help you find relief and improve your overall well being.

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