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« Back to Headaches & Migraines Questions

Q: I have been suffering from tension headaches for twenty years. I am tired of relying on medication. Also, my wife gets terrible migraines. Can acupuncture help?

A: Yes. It is well documented that acupuncture is a source of pain relief. Nearly 20% of Americans get headaches, which can be episodic or chronic. The conventional form of treatment is symptomatic relief through drug therapy, which can cause side effects or be addictive.

Headaches fall into three categories: tension, vascular and organically caused. Acupuncture is most beneficial for migraine or tension headaches. About 90% of all headaches fall into the tension group, most commonly caused by tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulder.

The acupuncturist identifies the affected muscle groups and then helps them relax by inserting whisper-thin needles into the appropriate points. At the beginning of treatment, relief may not last very long. After a few treatments (the number necessary varies), the headaches will come less often and be less intense. As the interlude between headaches gets longer, the time between treatments is lengthened. It is best to start acupuncture sessions without a headache, which is a preventative approach. Acupuncture in conjunction with massage can be especially effective.

About the Author:

Jane McKee, MAcOM, L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist in Tigard, Oregon. 

To learn more about Jane McKee or the Meridian Acupuncture Clinic, please visit