Acupuncture for migraines, tension headaches and other chronic headaches

One of the most rewarding problems to treat with acupuncture are headaches, simply because acupuncture works so well for them. I’ve had many patients with headaches come in to my clinic who have never had acupuncture before. They’re skeptical and wary but desperate to end the chronic and debilitating headaches they experience, whether migraines, tension headaches, hypnic headaches or others. Many times I’ve seen such people sit down in a chair or on the table in great pain, and get up after the acupuncture treatment pain free, or with their pain greatly reduced. Often times these patients have been to the emergency rooms multiple times, and report that even morphine and other powerful pain killers haven’t been able to touch their headaches, and that the acupuncture treatment has been their first relief from years of pain.

What does the science say?

Studies report similar findings. The Cochrane Collaborative, an independent group which reviews studies on various health topics, both conventional and alternative, reports that there is good evidence for using acupuncture for migraine prevention, tension headaches, and chronic daily headaches. Further, a survey of conventional physicians in Norway indicated that over a third recommended acupuncture for treatment of migraines (and over half were planning on seeking acupuncture treatment for their own health conditions).

How many treatments does it take?

It varies from person to person, but generally a series of 1-2 treatments per week over five weeks is a good starting point. After this, maintenance treatment consists of once or twice a month or every few months or just as needed. Community acupuncture is a great low cost way to come in for the initial series of treatments. Depending on your case and on other symptoms you may have, I may prescribe herbs, homeopathic remedies or other treatments to supplement the acupuncture, usually after meeting with you in a private appointment. Sometimes headaches are a symptom of other health conditions, in this case further workup, including labs, imaging and referrals may be necessary.

If you’d like to ask more questions or schedule an appointment, please feel free to call me at 360-818-4218, or click here to schedule online.

Image courtesy of: m_bartosch /

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