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Not All Headaches Are Created Equally

Headaches are unfortunately something that most Americans suffer from on a regular basis.  Luckily, with some lifestyle changes and acupuncture chronic headaches and even migraines can be kept under control.  

Headaches can be broken down into 4 primary types:

Tension

Cluster

Sinus (this is the kind I get when Im not careful!)

Migraine 

There are different triggers ranging from stress, alcohol, weather, food and dehydration.  Aside from any major biomedical red flags (which I am trained to spot) I am happy to let you know that I can help with headaches and migraines. 

Tension: The most common. I see this all the time with upper back and neck pain.  Acupuncture to the shoulders and upper back along with cupping can help tremendously.  I also like to apply heat packs and an infrared lamp to warm up tight muscles, increase blood flow and loosen things up.  Think of a vice grip clamping down on those muscles of the upper back and neck.  Acupuncture and massage works to loosen that up which relives tension locally all they way up to the forehead and eyes. Causes can range from stress to poor posture and even dehydration. 

Cluster: Interestingly these are most common with men under 30.  Typically one-sided and accompanied by watery eyes a red face and follow the pathway of the trigeminal nerve. They can last as long as weeks and months and are typically due to smoking and alcohol. 

Sinus: Ugh, this is me! Often times linked to sinus infection but not always they are due to increased pressure in the sinus cavities.  Pain can radiate from the cheeks, eyes, forehead and teeth.  If accompanied by infection mucus will be green and often a fever will present.  It is important to see your MD for antibiotics and I can help with herbal formulas and acupuncture for sinus pressure and pain. 

Migraine: Migraines can present as all of the above but are distinguished by light sensitivity, nausea and often one-sided throbbing pain.  Triggers vary widely and there is often a hormonal influence among females.  

With everything in Chinese Medicine the goal is to address the root cause- not just cover up the symptoms.  Based upon each type of headache and the patient history a treatment plan is drawn up. I like to apply oils, acupressure and teach visualization to my patients to help with pain.  I also work to create blood flow either to or from the area depending upon the type of headache.  Acupuncture can be used in acute situations or for long term wellness to keep headaches and migraines under control.  As with all my patients we work to create a treatment plan and reevaluate to make sure we are on the right track.  I am conveniently located in Banker’s Hill so a nice walk through Balboa Park is always a great follow up to a headache treatment.

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