Acupuncture for Headaches–Treat the Symptoms and The Causes, Part 2
Acupuncture and Dry Needling to Release Trigger Points
We use Acupuncture and Dry Needling together for Headaches in two ways. One, is as physical medicine, using the gentle insertion of acupuncture needles into trigger points in the scalp, jaw, neck, and shoulders that are the immediate cause of headaches. This is called dry needling, and requires specialized knowledge of anatomy and the location of primary and satellite trigger points.
In dry needling we use our needles the way a shiatsu therapist uses her thumbs, to deactivate the trigger points in the muscles and fascia that are associated with your headaches. One of my patients, who is herself a massage therapist, said, “its as if you are massaging the point from the inside.”
Secondly, we use the acupuncture needles to open the flow of Qi in the channels, and drain the pathalogical heat and tension out of the scalp, jaw, neck, face, and shoulders at the same time as we have used the dry needles to deactivate the trigger points in those muscles and fascia.
The Trigger Point Response to an Acupuncture Needle
When we use the acupuncture needles to release your trigger point, the muscle fasiculates—it actually jumps a little, involuntarily, and after that it lengthens, and now there is less pulling on the bones the muscles attach to. Muscles work by shortening. The chronic muscular tension that causes headaches is relieved when the muscle is made to lengthen by deactivating the trigger points with dry needling.
While releasing trigger points with acupuncture for headaches feels really good, and leaves your whole body feeling looser and more relaxed, it only deals with half of the equation. Its a very vital half, the fact that every person with tension or migraine headaches has active trigger points that must be released with trigger point acupuncture or dry needling for your headaches to go away.
Classical Chinese Acupuncture for Headaches Treats the Cause of Your Symptoms
But Classical Chinese Acupuncture is always interested in getting to the root of disease, and not just treating symptoms. You can relieve tension and migraine headaches with acupuncture and dry needling, but if you don’t get to the root, you are not doing an elegant treatment, you are not treating the whole person, and the headaches will come back because you have not addressed the cause. My goal is to help you eliminate headaches for good.
Classical Chinese Acupuncture for headaches seeks a permanent cure by taking it to the next level. This means doing more than just de-activating trigger points. Classical Chinese acupuncture wants to undo the underlying Qi and Blood stagnation, and nervous system dysfunction that is the cause of tension and migraine headaches.
Getting to the Root of Things–The Classical Chinese Acupuncture First Visit
TCM and Classical Chinese and Acupuncture theory differentiates tension and migraine headaches by the location of your headache pain, its severity, duration, and frequency, the time of day you get your headaches, and known triggers, from stress to foods to perfumes to allergens.
In addition to wanting to know details of your individual headache experience, Acupuncture and TCM medical theory also wants to paint a picture of the soil and climate of the person whose tree is bearing headache fruit. We see headaches as a symptom of an underlying pattern of individual disharmony.
So in your first session we ask you about your sleep, appetite, digestion, elimination, menstrual cycle, and mood. We feel the pulse, and look at the tongue, which are the closest thing to an MRI in Chinese Medicine.
We spend the time and ask detailed questions to understand the big picture of how you developed headaches. We want to help you get rid of your headaches for good. To do that we need your help.
Not Just Trigger Points: Qi Stagnation and the Acupuncture Channels
Acupuncture theory says, “where there is pain, there is Qi stagnation, and where there is Qi stagnation there will be pain (or disease).” In fact, active trigger points associated with shortened, tense muscles, are the exact definition of Qi stagnation. Tight muscles don’t move as well as well lengthened ones. Qi Stagnation. Tight muscles have poorer blood microcirculation. Qi and Blood Stagnation.
So in Acupuncture for headaches we first ask, are the headaches primarily in the forehead, at the temples, at the base of the head, at the crown, or do they feel like your whole head is in a vice. Each of these headache pain locations is associated with specific acupuncture channel pathways.
Acupuncture theory also describes how one way to relieve Qi stagnation from one part of the body is to “drain” it out by opening the flow of qi in the channel that flows in the area the pain or Qi stagnation is. We do this by needling acupuncture points that are distal, at the opposite end, and sometimes even the opposite side of the body that the pain is on.
How We Choose Our Acupuncture Points for Tension Headache and Migraine
So when using Classical Chinese Acupuncture for headaches, we always choose points on the legs and feet to guide the Qi out of the head. Points on the head are like turning the tap on, points on the leg and foot are opening the channel to give the stagnant Qi a place to pour down into.
And Qi, like energy, is just Qi, its pathological quality comes from having too much of it. There is no toxic Qi, per se, what becomes toxic is too much of it in the wrong place. So not to worry. Once the Qi pours down into the feet it now returns to normal healthy circulation.
This is akin to unblocking a stream that has been dammed by debris that accumulated over time after repeated storms. Use any metaphor you want, getting your drain to flow by hydro–jetting the lines. Metaphors involving water make sense, as in Chinese we speak of the flow of Qi thru the channels. The model for this way of thinking comes from agriculture. Rice farming involves elaborate development of channels that easily come blocked.