MIGRAINES & HEADACHES
Types of Headaches:
There are a variety of different types of headaches, both primary and secondary. These include the following:
Tension headaches, which occasionally affect most people, are the most common type of headache. They are recurrent headaches, and can last anywhere from minutes to days. These headaches are experienced as a dull pressure, mild or moderate in severity.
Migraine headaches are usually one-sided, pulsating or throbbing, and moderate or severe in intensity. They can be worsened with activity and may be associated with nausea and/or vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light or noise. Some patients also experience auras, a neurological symptom that develops gradually over 5-20 minutes. The patient may see brief flashes or waves of light, or changes in their vision. Other common features of auras include vertigo, imbalance, confusion and numbness.
Headaches occurring every day or almost every day are referred to as chronic daily headaches or rebound headaches. Sometimes they resemble tension headaches, and at other times, migraines. The overuse of pain medications can result in aggravating headache patterns.
Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, which gives the condition its name. Cluster headache is one of the most painful types of headache.
Cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head.
Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, may last from weeks to months, usually followed by remission periods when the headache attacks stop completely. During remission, no headaches occur for months and sometimes even years.
Some headaches may be signs of a serious medical condition. These include headaches after trauma, headaches in the elderly, or headaches with any of the following symptoms:
Vomiting without nausea
Extreme neck pain
"A friend had recommended Dr Fiorani for my severe and debilitating chronic migraines. I was skeptical at first, but he explained the acupuncture process along with clear scientific research in a way that made me feel comfortable enough to give this a try. Incredibly, after one month of weekly treatments, I no longer had to continue taking Imitrex. After two months, not one severe migraine. Six months later I'm migraine free. Acupuncture has changed my life, and I can't recommend enough!" -Google Review
Treatment and Prevention of Chronic
Headaches and Migraines
Dr. Fiorani has extensive experience and success in the treatement of a wide range of headaches including chronic migraines, tension and cluster headaches.
Proven By Scientific Research!
Acupuncture is incredibly effective in the treatment of migraines and headaches. There is considerable research available for migraine prophylaxis, over 30 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in fact. A review of 22 studies was completed and reported a positive effect across all passive controlled RCTs, and concluded that acupuncture should be considered as a treatment option.
A More Detailed Look at Headaches & Migraines
The Autonomic Nervous System and Headaches
The functioning of all of our internal organs is regulated by an involuntary nervous system known as the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS has two primary divisions: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for activating the "fight or flight" response characteristically engaged in stressful situations. The parasympathetic system opposes this response by activating the restful state and causing the relaxation response. Prolonged periods of stress can induce a chronic state of hyper-sympathetic activity and/or suppressed parasympathetic response results as the body gradually shifts to an increased sympathetic response. Such a state can lead to neck and upper back rigidity and stiffness, heaviness behind the eyes, and tension headaches, as well as anxiety, irritability, and digestive problems such as bloating and constipation.
To understand headache pain, it is important to understand that during a chronically sympathetic-dominant state, constriction of the blood vessels (vasoconstriction) minimizes circulation - including circulation to the brain. The internal branch of the carotid artery passes through an opening in the skull and becomes a major source of blood for the brain. When vasoconstriction becomes excessive, the body responds by releasing specific neurotransmitters, sometimes referred to as neurokinins, causing "rebound dilation" in the constricted arteries - a natural defense mechanism our bodies use to compensate for blood deprivation. Rebound dilation in turn produces a state of over-dilation in the affected segments of the arteries. These arteries are wrapped with pain receptors. Over-dilation causes these receptors to be stretched, resulting in the intense pain and throbbing of a migraine. The pain is localized because of the limited area of over-dilation, while the throbbing results because each time the heart pumps blood into the artery, the artery expands. When the heart rests, the artery partially constricts which relieves the pain.
Migraines as a Healing Reaction
Because rebound dilation, as described above, occurs as a natural response to the deprivation of blood to the brain, scientists have begun to view migraines as a part of the healing process. The theory explains many unique characteristics of migraine attacks, which often develop when one is relieved from a situation of prolonged stress - such as on weekends, the first day of vacation, following a relaxing dinner at the end of a stressful day, or after sleeping in on Sunday mornings. Physiologically, this is when the body shifts from an increased sympathetic state to a rebound parasympathetic elevation state.
Many sufferers experience some of their most intense migraines following massage treatment. This is not surprising considering that massage and other natural therapies, including acupuncture, trigger the healing reaction by eliciting a relaxation response and enhancing circulation.
The Treatment of Headaches in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has an effective, philosophically based framework for headache etiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment. Specifically, acupuncture has been used to treat headaches for thousands of years. The greatest advantage of acupuncture over western medicine is that it does virtually no harm. Unlike synthetic drugs, acupuncture has virtually no side effects, and the procedures for treating headaches are much less invasive.
Acupuncture for Migraine Relief
Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body, followed by gentle manual or electrical stimulation of the needles. Blood flow in the tissues increases when small vessels around the area of the needle dilate. While actions designed to increase circulation are generally an excellent treatment for pain, such a treatment is not beneficial in the treatment of migraines. Because the pain of a migraine may be associated with the dilation of blood vessels in the head, increasing circulation in this area can worsen the patient's symptoms. We utilize a unique approach to the treatment of migraine attacks. By avoiding points in the head, neck and upper body, and instead using points in the lower body, we avoid dilating the blood vessels of the head.
Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention
Emotional stress is a well-known trigger for migraines. The parasympathetic (relaxed state) branch is inhibited, and the sympathetic branch (stressed state) is activated. This type of imbalance may be tied to other health conditions such as heart disease, insomnia, hypertension and premenstrual syndrome.
We use an acupuncture technique to help prevent migraines by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and decreasing muscle tension. Acupuncture points for this technique are usually chosen on the forearms and lower legs.
Increased muscle tension in the neck and upper back is common in people with migraines; therefore reducing this tension is an integral part of preventing migraines.