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Acupuncture for Headaches

Almost everyone on the planet has experienced at least one headache in their lifetime. It’s a common occurrence that can happen any day for many reasons, many of them benign. They range from simply annoying to downright debilitating, but whatever the intensity level, all you want to do is stop the pain. 

When you suffer only occasionally, an over-the-counter medication is a perfectly acceptable way to get relief. But when you get frequent headaches or migraines, drugs can be ineffective and dangerous.

Acupuncture, on the other hand, has shown to be effective and free from harmful side effects. At the Chronic Pelvic Pain Center of Northern Virginia, Dr. Melissa Delgado and our team, including nurse practitioners Wendy Roberts and Amanda McClay, offer you the benefits of this ancient Chinese therapy with some modern advancements. Here’s how it works on your headaches.

Understanding headaches

It may surprise you to know that there are more than 150 different types of headaches, and they all fall within two main categories: primary and secondary.

Primary headaches are those that have no ties to any other medical condition. They’re stand-alone problems that arise from tension, stress, or other triggers. Your nerves, blood vessels, and muscles become activated or irritated, and they send pain signals to your brain. Migraines are considered primary headaches.

Secondary headaches are symptoms of other diseases, injuries, or illnesses, such as infection, tumors, hypertension, or trauma.

How acupuncture treats headaches

For more than 2000 years, acupuncture has been a mainstay of the Chinese culture. The treatment is based on the belief that your pain is caused by an imbalance in your life flow, or qi (pronounced chee). Using extremely thin needles, the acupuncturist attempts to release the blocked flow of qi and relieve your pain.

Western practitioners believe the needles stimulate your nerves, which in turn releases feel-good hormones, such as endorphins. This increases your circulation and boosts your immune system, as well as calms your pain sensations. So if you have frequent headaches or migraines, acupuncture may help your body stop the pain without drugs.

Battlefield acupuncture

Although acupuncture has been around in its original form for more than two millennia, it has undergone a few improvements over the years. One of the most recent and most effective is called battlefield acupuncture. Pioneered by Col. Richard Niemtzow in 2001, this method has been used by the US military with great success. It stops or reduces pain in combat situations until the wounded can get full medical treatment.

Our Dr. Delgado trained side-by-side with Dr. Niemtzow in order to offer you this effective variation of acupuncture.

The main difference from the classic method is that battlefield acupuncture uses tiny semi-permanent gold needles that Dr. Delgado places at strategic points in your ear, rather than using long needles that are removed at the end of a traditional acupuncture treatment.

After a few days, they fall out on their own, and you’re left pain free. Depending on the type of headaches you suffer, Dr. Delgado targets different zones or spots on the rim of your ear to effectively disrupt the pain signals. You may need a series of treatments to gain the full benefit, and Dr. Delgado discusses all your treatment options with you.

If you have chronic headaches or other types of lasting pain, call us at the Chronic Pelvic Pain Center of Northern Virginia here in Vienna at 571-261-8069, or request an appointment online today. Relief may be a tiny needle stick away.

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