Acupuncture for Headaches

Acupuncture for Headaches

When other methods fail for curing regular headaches or migraines, many people turn to the less common treatment options. One of those options is acupuncture, which has been proven effective through scientific studies to alleviate headaches. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese technique involving the insertion of needles in key areas of the body referred to as acupuncture points. This increases blood flow to the area and dilates blood vessels around the spot in which the needle was inserted.

Typical Causes of Headaches

Stress is a major factor in pain caused by headaches. Either the stress caused the headache or intensified the pain. Aside from stress, other possible causes of headaches include hormonal imbalances, altered sleep patterns, low blood sugar, food sensitivities, chemicals, and skipping meals. There are other potential origins of headaches, so if none of these apply, be open to considering different triggers.

Finding the Root Cause of the Headache

A good acupuncturist will attempt to determine what triggers a patient’s headaches to prevent them from occurring again after treatment. For example, if a food sensitivity was causing migraines, then an individual will have the migraines return some time after completing an acupuncture treatment plan because that food is still entering his system. It may take time and experimentation to figure out which foods trigger migraines but it’s well worth it for permanent migraine relief.

How Acupuncture Treats and Prevents Migraines

Acupuncture for migraines is beneficial because a migraine in the making starts with nerve cells in the brain transmitting messages to the blood vessels causing them to constrict. After the blood vessels constrict, they expand. Upon expansion, inflammatory substances responsible for pain are released.

The Problem with Using Caffeine for Headaches

Many people have discovered that caffeine can crush a headache in its early stages but overall caffeine is not as beneficial as acupuncture for headaches albeit dilating the blood vessels. For one, caffeine dehydrates the body and most people already don’t drink enough water. Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Therefore, a headache may return later if the individual doesn’t drink enough water.

Headaches Caused by Stress Are Eliminated with Regular Acupuncture

Acupuncture for headaches caused by stress is very beneficial because acupuncture has been shown to relieve stress as well. When done on a consistent basis, clients will have lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies and feel less stressed in their day-to-day lives. They are better able to handle stress that flies their way. As a result, they stop suffering from stress-induced headaches.

Acupuncture Balances Hormones in the Body

More surprisingly, acupuncture can balance the hormones in the body. Thus, if the cause of a client’s headaches is a hormone imbalance, it is not always necessary for him to take drugs. An acupuncture treatment plan can solve the problem while providing headache and migraine relief.

No Side Effects with Acupuncture

There are no side effects of acupuncture for migraines and headaches like there is with medications. As long as the acupuncturist is a trained professional who uses sterilized one-use needles, it is a low-risk treatment method. However, if the acupuncturist is not professional, dirty needles could cause infections. Always ensure the acupuncturist follows procedures and cares about his clients’ safety before booking an appointment.

Reduced Stress Levels and Fewer to No Headaches

Acupuncture has provided tremendous headache relief for various types of headaches with different causes. In some cases, acupuncture prevents headaches from returning. In other cases, however, the client needs to do something more beyond acupuncture to sufficiently remedy the cause. An example being headaches or migraines caused by food sensitivities. Because stress is a major culprit in triggering headaches or worsening the pain, acupuncture in general is excellent for treating headaches because it relieves stress as well.

Research at NYDNRehab

About the Author

Dr. Lev Kalika is clinical director of NYDNRehab, located in Manhattan. Lev Kalika is the author of multiple medical publications and research, and an international expert in the field of rehabilitative sonography, ultrasound guided dry needling and sports medicine Dr. Kalika works with athletes, runners, dancers and mainstream clients to relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, enhance performance and minimize the risk of injuries. His clinic features some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the world, rarely found in a private clinic.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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