Headache & Migraine

About Headache & Migraine:

Headaches are very common, the reason, location, nature and severity all vary. Usually in acupuncture treatment, relieving the pain is easy and quick but the key point is how to achieve long term effect, therefore the specifics of your headache will be important for us. Through a detailed and thorough consultation, we will understand the root of your headache and treat it with acupuncture and/or massage, herbals may also be used for more severe cases.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches are the most common headaches, and generally cause infrequent mild to moderate pain, but in a considerable number of patients, tension headaches are so frequent that they require treatment. The pain from headache may be triggered by anger, worry, shock, or excessive mental work. Acupuncture is not only effective for treating tension headache, but also to prevent it; we treat the sources that cause the headache. Usually first relieve the pain, then treat tension by calming down the mind, within 20minutes of insertion of needles, patient’s breath will become deeper and longer. Near the end of each treatment, we use acupuncture to promote deeper sleep. Good sleep will generally reduce the chance of tension headache significantly. In my clinic we find it is quick to treat headache, but long term effect can not be achieved until sleeping condition has improved.


Migraine headaches can be disabling and severe. These are intense and have a throbbing unilateral painful sensation, in severe cases the migraine may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Acupuncture should be used after short massage to loosen muscles to coop with over sensitivity, after the migraine is relived (about 30minutes after insertion of needles) further examination should continue. Patients with severe migraine may not be able to clearly locate the tender spots. We found many patients have tender spots at side of neck, and/or along thoracic column. After 3 to 6 acupuncture treatments, the tender spots will be reduced or have disappeared completely, and the migraine will also be reduced/disappeared. Other common triggers of migraine headaches include heat, stress, and lack of sleep etc. which needs to be treated separately.


The headache is caused by neck problem, this kind of headache happens at occipital area and sometimes the forehead. After examination, tender spots can usually be found on the neck close to occipital. Often, the patient may identify the wrong tender spot which may lead to failure of acupuncture, so the location has to be made clear before starting the treatment.

Fatigue /weakness

This kind of headache happens when the body is tired, so it is often worse in late afternoon and evening. It i a dull ache, and could last or on and off for long time. Sometimes holding head, pressing on temporal area could relieve it for a while. Boosting energy is the root to treatment to achieve long term effect, local treatment will only work temporally.

Menstrual Headaches

Most of these headaches are migraines, it occurs just before, in the course of, or soon after menstruation. The Acupuncture could alleviate this headache in 20minutes, but the key point is treating the pre-menstrual syndrome, meaning that the headache will not disappear until the pre-menstrual syndrome has been cured. After that we also offer prevention treatment for the syndrome, for which treatments will only take place once before menstruation. Usually it takes 4 to 6 treatments to cure the syndrome.

Weather Related Heachaches

This kind of headache occurs when the weather changes, for example, cloudy or rainy days may cause a dull ache with clouded mind. Short term effect may be achieved in one or two treatments, long term effect will take 4 to 8+ sessions. The patient will find the headache totally gone when the mind becomes clear.

Post-traumatic headache

Auto accidents can be stressful; it not only injured the head and neck, but also disturbed the mind. While treating the headache, mental status and sleep pattern also needs to be treated. We found long term headache without X-ray abnormality is usually related to mental stress, shock or sensitivity. So calming down mind has to be included during the treatment. Many of our past patients have tried other types of treatments, including massage, physiotherapy, etc., before coming for acupuncture. We can cure this type of headache and have treated many patients who had completely given up on curing it.

Temporo-mandibule Joint Headaches

Temporo-mandibule joint (TMJ) or jaw related headaches are almost all mental stress related. In the acupuncture, we relax masseter muscles first, and then we calm down mind. After a few treatments, the patient will find themselves sleeping better, long term effect starts after sleep has improved.

edmonton acupuncture pain management

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Treatment for Headache and Migraine:

Some patients experience long lasting headache up to years of pain. Others experience them on and off depending on body conditions and environment. Our treatment strategy helps our therapist in the following steps:

  • Step 1: Consultation. Find out the specific reason or trigger factors, for example, it happens after prolonged tension, after insomnia, when tired, or when weather changes. These specific facts decide the headache pattern. Some patients may not know the reasons or trigger factors, looking at tongue and feeling the pulse in the consultation also provide information about reasons of headache.
  • Step 2: Detailed consultation to find out the reason which causes the stress, insomnia, or fatigue. Headache caused by weather change may be related to dampness or personal sensitivity.
  • Step 3: Acupuncture. Relieve the pain by acupuncture or/and massage. We then treat the root reasons, making client calmer and energetic.