The National Institute For Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the body who recommend how the NHS spend their money – recommend acupuncture for treatment of chronic tension type headaches and migraine.
Treating Headache & Migraine Is Not One Size Fits All
Treating headache and migraine is rarely the same from one person to the next. The first decision point with any headache is “is this headache due to muscular tension or something else?”. To gauge this, range of movement of the neck and head is assessed and checked for abnormalities. Muscles of the headache and neck are palpated for tension and tenderness. Any tenderness or restriction in range of movement may point to a myofascial trigger point being the origin of the headache. These headaches respond very well to acupuncture treatment.
There are numerous trigger points which can refer pain from the neck and shoulders into the head. I’ve listed three common culprits below.
The trapezius is a muscle of the head and neck and has numerous functions including moving the scapula (shoulder blade) and neck. It’s one of the muscles most predisposed to problems from tension, stress and poor posture. Typical pain patterns in the upper portion of this muscle send pain up the neck to just behind the ear and into the temple.
The SCM (sternocleidomastoid) is an important neck muscle for maintaining correct head posture. The muscle is responsible for bending the head forward (flexion), rotating the head and lateral flexion of the head and spine (putting the ear down on to the shoulder). Problems in the SCM don’t usually manifest in stiff neck, instead referring pain into the back of the head, ears and above the eyes.
This is the muscle involved in closing the jaw. It gets stressed from tension or being held open for long periods of time, as during dental procedures. Tightness in this muscle can sometimes create tooth ache, sinusitis and even tinnitus. Its the most commonly involved muscle in TMJ dysfunction.
There are many more muscles that are responsible for headaches. Download my headache guide which looks at the function of 8 further muscles and how to correct misfiring and dysfunctional muscles.
My Headache Isn’t caused By Muscular Tension – So What Now?
In terms of acupuncture, I’m now looking at treating the migraine in a very different manner. I’m looking to disrupt those over-active nerve impulses that cause the pain and other disturbing symptoms such as nausea, photo sensitivity, tiredness and muzzy head.
I use a distal technique developed by Dr Tan. Needles are rarely placed in the area that hurts. Instead the needles are placed typically in the hands, feet or ears. Generally symptoms disappear on the couch with this technique.
What To expect From Treatment
The first session involves taking a detailed history of your symptoms, when it gets better or worse, where you feel the pain, what triggers the pain, the nature of the pain. This is followed by an exam of your range of movement of your neck muscles, some facial muscles and occasionally muscles of the shoulder.
Outcomes for treatment can vary. I have treated patients with chronic persistent migraine and we have reduced the severity and frequency of attacks massively….
I have suffered with migraines for years and years and finally decided to give acupuncture a go and I am glad I did. I went from a few a week down to a few a month to one every few weeks. I keep a headache diary and I have only had the odd – what I consider to be a normal headache – since 1.4.19. I am so grateful I cannot tell you.
…equally patients have come in with recent onset headache and we have managed to eliminate them completely within 6 sessions…
The general rule of thumb is that the younger and healthier and less time you have been suffering the quicker it is to treat.
Be really careful when taking medication for headaches. The withdrawal of some pain relief medications aimed at blunting migraine pain can make things worse. Quitting long term use of paracetamol, aspirin, triptans or opioid based pain killers can worsen the symptoms they are trying to cure, trapping the sufferer in a drug-dependent cycle.
Some Patient Testimonials
Great experience, and Tim is very professional. The treatment was a first for me and after the initial consultation and first treatment I could feel the benefits. Tim has the knowledge to help with your problematic areas, so give him a try , I’m sure he could help.
– Simon Jones
Had two sessions with Tim due to dizziness and neck pain. After the first session the dizziness, almost instantly, subsided. The neck pain is better too but more than both these, oddly enough, I feel, in general, much more positive in life. My outlook has ‘shifted’ somewhat and I have better energy. I can thoroughly recommend Tim, utterly professional and very knowledgeable. Thanks so much.
– Rosie Knewstub
I highly recommend Tim if you are considering acupuncture treatment. He is very knowledgeable in this area and also extremely professional, personable and conscientious.
I will definitely be returning for treatments in the future.
– Mary Denton
Tim Wright is a diligent and professional acupuncturist.
– John Jeater
The treatment I received from Tim was first class all the way through.
– Paul Gates
OMG! It works. I’ve suffered back issues for 25 years from a training accident. Only 2 sessions with Tim and I haven’t had back pain since. Can wait for my next appointment.
Got muscle joint issues, don’t bother with doctors or physio, get yourself to see Tim. Lovely fella and real good at what he does.
– Peter Logan
Tim is professional, welcoming and very effective. I was very much a skeptic of acupuncture, booked in for an initial consultation and session and was not left disappointed in any way – I was elated afterwards! Tim listened closely to my concerns and needs, then was a complete expert throughout the therapy, would highly recommend him to everyone.
– Steve Cr
If I could rate Tim at Gower acupuncture higher than a 5 star I would. I’ve spent the last 14 months trying to get a diagnosis for a muscle problem that I have, I’ve spent money going to private consultants, numerous trips to the doctors, hospital and physiotherapists and nobody could give me even a hint at what it could be. I thought I would give acupuncture a try as I didn’t know what else I could try and within one consultation and treatment with Tim he had managed to give me a diagnosis that described my problem to a tee. I would highly recommend him.
– James Davies
I have only recently started to attend the Gower Acupunture clinic in the Uplands Swansea. I have been suffering with symptoms of the peri menopause for the last year which can really grip a person when they reach a certain age. Couple that with work related stress and anxiety and you really feel you are driving with the brake on. I have had only two sessions with Tim and I am now feeling much more relaxed and calmer. I have gone from sleeping 1/2 hours a night to sleeping for 8/9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which in itself makes you feel much for refreshed and positive to start the day. Who wants to take antidepressants or sleeping tablets when you can heal in a holistic way.I highly recommend a visit to Tim, as you will not be disappointed.
– Deborah Rowberry
I enjoyed my first session with Tim and also found it very interesting, never having experienced acupuncture before. I got the impression of a competent, caring professional and felt very much at ease. Over the years, I had been told by several practitioners that my thoracic spine was “like a rock” – a phrase that Tim echoed. In the days following the treatment, there was an appreciable difference and the area felt looser and more mobile than it had for a very long time. The discomfort that has been present recently has gone. I will definitely be visiting again.
– Johh Pritchard
Having never even considered acupuncture before, I can say I am very impressed with the results, Tim as a therapist is so thorough and treated areas that I didn’t even mention in consultation, very intuitive. Tim has also really helped me in offering advice on exercise to suit my injuries and build strength and reassurance. A really positive experience which I would thorougly recommend.
– Anne Pitman
Highly recommended. I have been struggling with lower back pain for the last 4 years. Every time I have been advised painkillers and physio! Thought I give acupuncture a go as I was fed up and it was affecting my every day activities. I can honestly say it been the best decision I made. After 2 sessions with Tim the pain had eased and after the 3 sessions the pain had gone I could get back to light excerise. Very happy with Tim and treatment he gave me.
– Greg Evans
First time I have had Acupuncture and I would highly recommend it especially with Gower Acupuncture
– Paz Balzano
Currently seeing Tim to help with an anxiety/hormonal issue. I have to say that Tim has been a fundamental part of my recovery. Not only does his acupuncture work incredibly well, but he offers so much more than just an acupuncture session. He includes massage, a friendly ear, he listens without judgement and genuinely wants to try help solve your problems. I always feel better after each session. He’s passionate about his work and is a genuinely nice person that is very good at what he does. He is super knowledgeable too!! I highly recommend!!!!!
– Laura Fielding
I’m just about to attend my third treatment with Tim and would fully recommend the treatment. The sessions are extremely calming and my experiences so far have been very positive.
– Sian Whitelock
Thank you Tim after 4 treatments I am much better, and am able to walk pain free. Would thoroughly recommend.
– Lynda Thomas
Really pleased with my treatment so far. Tim is really friendly and professional with a lot of knowledge. I’m already feeling so much better. Would highly recommend!!
– Jessica Whitehouse
Thanks Tim for getting me back to my best!
– Cameron Rykiel
Tim at Gower Acupuncture has repeatedly helped me with sports injury rehab and therapy using massage and acupuncture.
– Matt Barker-Smith, UK SUP Champion
Tim has been instrumental in managing the peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy, thus enabling me to regain pleasure from walking my dogs and increasing my independence. He has also helped to maintain my well being and other side effects caused by treatments.
Tim is wonderful, friendly, and very professional. Would recommend him to everyone 🙂
– Natalie Griffiths