Headaches and Acupuncture

For most people wanting a way to treat their headache problems, pills such as Advil or ibuprofen are the first things that come to mind. Having said that, some people have chosen alternative therapy to treat their condition, and the results may surprise you. A traditional method of Chinese healing practice, acupuncture has been used for centuries, and many have been attracted to it for its effectiveness in dealing with headache pain.

People with chronic and severe headaches can know how unbearable it is to experience aches and pains on a daily basis. It can truly interfere with your way of life, and taking care of the problem isnt altogether straightforward. Dealing with the problem using over-the-counter analgesics may not be effectual, as the body sometimes builds up a resistance to the pills and punishes you with a painful ‘rebound headache, which refuses to respond to medication. Because the use of medication has less than reliable results when faced with a long-term headache problem, many have been brought into the world of acupuncture.

Acupuncture may conjure up worrisome images for people with a fear of needles, but these are no ordinary needles. Acupuncture therapists use thin needles positioned at certain points on the body. They are left in for varying lengths of time to help ease different medical problems. Lately, research into the therapy has shown that its use for treating headaches may match or even surpass medication.

Recent Studies

In Germany, studies were conducted concerning using acupuncture to treat both migraine and tension headaches; the two most commonly experienced types of headaches. With the results being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study showed that undeniably, acupuncture was an effective form of therapy.

Advocates of acupuncture contend that the treatment obviously surpasses the use of medication to care for headaches. They state that there is virtually no harm caused to the body though acupuncture, whereas depending on drugs to alleviate the pain can result in side effects and annoying rebound headaches. One should be wary of such claims, however, when there isnt a mass of scientific data to back the points up.


The German study illustrates that there can be value in treatment by acupuncture, but it is only a lone study. There needs to be more corroborating information published vis-à-vis the use of acupuncture for treating headaches before any accurate conclusions can be made about the treatments efficiency. A placebo effect may be causing the results. Until more information is collected about the procedure, be sure to consider your options before jumping into any kind of treatment.

One more point to consider is the gateway theory, which states that the body can only experience so many sensations at once, and when it reaches sensory overload, it will simply reject some of the sensations. This theory is supported by the natural reaction of rubbing and injury: when something is causing you intense pain, you rub it, and the pain seems to go away.

The results of acupuncture treatment may simply be somehow due to a gateway effect, and the acupuncture therapy may seem to work in this way. By concentrating on the pain of the needles, your body may simply be rejecting the pain signals that it is getting due to the headache. However, this wouldnt explain the lasting effect of the treatment. Clearly, more investigation is in order.

See Also:

Migraine Myths