A recent high-level review of clinical trials has concluded that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches. (1)
Tension-type headache is the most common form of primary headache (headache without other known cause).
It is extremely important to have your headache symptoms assessed by your GP and, if required, by a specialist. Headache can be a signal of many illnesses, including severe or life-threatening conditions.
It is important to note that different people will respond in different ways to health treatments, and just because a therapy is effective for a large number of people, it may not be effective for you.
If you are interested to come to this clinic to receive acupuncture treatment for your tension-type headaches, your acupuncturist will review your health history, discuss your whole-person health picture according to Chinese medicine diagnosis and then recommend a treatment plan. Your acupuncturist will discuss a plan that is tailored to you, based on your headache symptoms and other signs and symptoms, according to how they are assessed with Chinese medicine principles.
In the review mentioned above, the authors specifically selected studies that had included at least six weekly acupuncture sessions, considering this the minimum reasonable “dosage” for effectiveness. Because each person is different, some may need more or less sessions than others. It is reasonable to expect to complete a few acupuncture sessions before making an assessment whether or not you are responding adequately to the treatment.
In this review article, the authors selected studies that had a post-treatment symptom check of at least eight weeks, to assess whether the effects of the treatment could last after treatment was completed. The main outcome that they were investigating was whether a 50% or more reduction in frequency of headaches could be sustained at three to four months after treatment had finished.
Because Chinese medicine considers the whole person, at this clinic your treatment plan will often incorporate other signs and symptoms, as these pieces of information are often considered to be interconnected, according to the Chinese medicine view. Chinese medicine strives to view the person in a wholistic way, where all signs and symptoms, strengths and weaknesses are operating in an interconnected web of cause and effect, connecting parts of the body within the person, and connecting the person to their natural and social environment.
Two types of tension headaches were included in this study. You can follow the links to the International Classification of Headache Disorders (3rd edition, online) to read the descriptions.
People who experience this type of headache can often also experience migraine without aura.
Although it is important to distinguish these types in Western medicine practice, in Chinese medicine a different system of diagnosis is used and therefore distinguishing clearly between Western descriptions of headache types is not as important when it comes to planning treatment.
If you would like to know more, you can: