Acupuncture may provide lasting relief from the pain of chronic migraines.
Let’s step inside the Ridgewood, NJ acupuncture clinic where I’d like to reveal 3 distinct ways acupuncturists diagnose headaches.
A Typical Migraine
Typical symptoms of migraine are one-sided, pulsating or throbbing, moderate or severe pain, worse with activity, and often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or noise. The manifestations are generally thought to be nerve and blood vessel related that are triggered by stress, fatigue, insomnia, menstruation and weather changes.
However, not EVERYONE suffers from all of these symptoms. No two sufferers have the same exact symptoms. There is wide variation of symptoms that people can experience. Rather than confusion, it is these distinguishing characteristics of a migraine that practitioners of Oriental Medicine pick up on in order to treat headaches.
Three Distinct Ways Acupuncturists Diagnose Headaches According to Traditional Chinese Medicine
1. Migraines are differentiated by the type of pain that sufferers complain about:
Hyperactivity of the Nervous system
Diagnosis can be made according to the pain that suffers complain about. Is your pain radiating or pulsating on one side of the head? Does the pain travel along the head in a specific area? If so, this type of headache is usually related to hyperactivity of your nervous system.
If your body experiences stress for too long, your body will start to show signs of stress. Stress that affects your headaches is typically the radiating, pulsating or even throbbing type. According to Chinese medicine there is too much hyperactivity or “Yang” energy that is stuck in the head. Like a tire that is overinflated, treating this pain will require the use of acupuncture points and herbs that sedate the nervous system to reduce the hyperactivity. Typically this headache is worsened when stress levels are high or if you are unable to sleep.
Poor Blood Circulation:
Pain that is more fixed in the area, that is, it is pain that does not move around. Maybe it feels like a railroad stake is boring through your head, at a very specific spot. This type of pain is related to poor blood circulation through the arteries and blood vessels that feed into your. Since blood flow gets constricted at a specific area in the head, the pain will manifest at a fixed area, without the typical radiation of pain. Treatment, will require acupuncture points and herbs that have the function of increasing blood flow to break through the constriction- sort of a “roto-rooting” of the area, to use a term from plumbing.
Lymphatic system Blockage:
Pain that is felt as a “heaviness”, with a “cloudy” sensation or like a wet towel wrapped around the head, is very characteristic of too much body fluid in the lymphatic system or “dampness”, which blocks up the lymphatic flow leaving the brain, causing the headaches. Treatment is aimed at moving lymphatic fluid within the lymphatic system with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system, comprising a network of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph (from Latin lympha meaning water) directionally towards the heart.
- So to summarize if the pain is radiating or pulsating on one side of the head, the cause is hyperactivity of the nervous system.
- If the headache is fixed in a specific area, the cause is poor blood circulation.
- If the headaches have a heaviness with a cloudy sensation, then the cause is poor lymphatic drainage.
2. Headache can be diagnosed based upon the meridian that it crosses.
This is a very helpful way to diagnose headaches from a meridian stand point. Accurately locating the pain pathway of the headache and tracing it through the meridian or meridians involved, can help you target it using acupuncture and herbs. Meridians are the super highways of the body, upon which the acupuncture points lay on, sort of a GPS map of the body. Choosing points on these “highways” help to treat the specific types of headache. Since it is considered a “highway”, you can put points in anywhere along the pathway that affect the head without having to put acupuncture points in the head. So as you can see, treating headaches can differ from patient to patient, depending on the area which is affected. Find diagrams of pictures for the type of headaches you might be experiencing.
For frontal headaches above the middle of the eye, or temples, we treat points that affect the Gallbladder meridian. (Remember there is nothing wrong with the gallbladder, these points wrap the sides and tops of the head directly above the eyeballs.
For “Mohawk” like headaches, we identify the Urinary Bladder meridian to treat. (Again nothing wrong with your bladder), we are following the meridian pathway of the Urinary Bladder, which is 1.5 body inches the the sides of the mid-line of the top of the head.
For headaches beneath the eye and along the laugh line of the nose we consider the Stomach and Large Intestine meridian pathways.
3. Diagnosis according to body types:
Certain body types are more pre-disposed to certain types of headaches. While this is not a hard fast rule, we can simply look at a person and determine what type of headache this person is prone to.
A medium to slightly thin physique with a complexion that is dark yellow, greenish yellow or greenish-pale skin is dry, muscle tone is firm. These types tend to have sensitivity to temperature changes or feels cold at one time but at other times she feels hot. Neck and shoulders tend to be achy and spasmed. Tend to have hyperactive stress headaches.
Whereas curvy to over-weight people, tend to have a pale complexion or a yellowish complexion, tend to have very moist skin. They tend to have digestive complaints or weight issues. These types tend to have the heavy type headaches.
Women with painful periods or people who have undergone surgery may have poor blood circulation as a result of heart surgery, knee surgery or other type of surgeries will be more prone to poor blood circulation headaches.
Again, these are generalized rules that can and are different in clinic setting to diagnosing migraines. We also need to look at the muscle spasm present in the neck and shoulders, as this could be a nerve or muscular cause of headaches as well. Knotted areas of pain, tenderness or radiating pain, can cause headaches to shoot into the head. This may be accompanied by periods of severe pain in the neck and shoulders from time to time or it may be more chronic pain or stiffness.
I hope this was helpful in giving you valuable insights into how acupuncturists evaluate and treat migraines and headaches.
Want more help, but not sure where to go? Health is only a phone call away. Joshua Goldstein, Licensed Acupuncturist in Bergen County, Ridgewood, NJ, would like to help you. Want more help? To see if acupuncture can be of help to you. Schedule your “get acquainted” consultation and evaluation today. If you are ready to take control of your health and your life now, call (201) 444-7150 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am never too busy to help you with your healthcare needs