Posts Tagged ‘headaches’
May 10, 2013
Acupuncture is mysterious, acupuncture is unique, but above all acupuncture is practical.
Often patients come in my New York acupuncture clinic and they are surprised how practical it is. And the main reason that acupuncture is practical is that it works. It’s not about the body’s energy or imbalances that are the root of your problem. It’s about feeling better and staying healthy.
Feel Better, Get Acupuncture
Acupuncture is about staying healthy, but the way it works is by correcting imbalances in the body. When the imbalance is removed you feel better. The acupuncture is just reminding the body how to be healthy.
When a patient comes into the our acupuncture office, we assess what the problems is, where and what imbalance is impending your health. The acupuncture treatment works to correct the imbalance. There are many imbalances that cause diseases. The key is to address the correct one with the correct approach. For example, if there is not enough Qi, the body’s energy, the acupuncture helps to boost the body’s qi.
Acupuncture is a simple idea but complicated in practice
Creating an effective therapy is where it gets more complicated, because addressing the underlying imbalance effectively depends upon the acupuncturist’s technique. This includes choosing the right acupuncture points, the most powerful combination of acupuncture points, and also how your acupuncturist stimulates the acupuncture points.
The correct acupuncture points must be chosen. Take the example I already used, if there is not enough Qi in the body, then we should use acupuncture points that stimulate production of Qi like St 36 or Kid 3.
Location of the acupuncture point is important as well. For example, when treating migraine headaches, I prefer to use acupuncture points that are not on the head, but rather on the shoulders, arms, and legs. This helps to reduce the imbalanced energy in the head causing the migraine. But for a back spasm in the lower back, I would use more acupuncture points close to the issue.
Acupuncture Technique is in the Hands
Another aspect is how acupuncture points are combined together. Sometimes it is important to put a few points close together to stimulate healing in a specific area. For example, with a muscles spasm in the lower back I may use a technique called surround the dragon. The surround the dragon technique uses four or five needles in the circle around the muscle in spasm. This communicates with the muscles to relax and return to a healthy states.
Part of the acupuncture technique is manual. How do we use the needles to stimulate the acupuncture points, nervous system, muscles, and fascia.
One technique to get a trigger point to release is twirling. The needles are twirled slightly to create a twitch in the muscle. The twitch is a signal that the body is acupuncture point is activated and it is initialing the healing process.
Apr 30, 2013
I started seeing Joe in mid-2012 at the age of 28. I was newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, have battled Interstitial Cystitis for 6 years, have chronic allergies and sinus including headaches, and have chronic constant stress and anxiety since I was a teenager. I was tired of feeling sick, stressed, and being on so many prescription medications. I had heard many great things about acupuncture, but always delayed trying it out, not sure if it would really work for me. I wanted to find someone who could mainly help my IC, and when I googled an acupuncturist in NYC for IC, Joe’s website came up. I am so glad it did, because ever since starting acupuncture with Joe, my health, body, and life has been better in all aspects.
Acupuncture is a natural high for me, and when I leave after my treatment, I feel incredibly relaxed and calm, which helps with my stress and anxiety, not just in that moment, but continuing throughout the week. Acupuncture is also incredibly great for pain and works very fast for all kinds of pain. One time I had a pulled muscle in my lower back, but after one acupuncture treatment, I was running after 2 days. One time I had such a bad headache that I wanted to go to the ER, but I went to Joe instead, and walked out almost headache free. Acupuncture helps a lot with my allergies and sinus problems, especially headaches.
Joe is so patient, answers all of my questions, every single time I see him, which is usually weekly, since that works for me. Since I feel healing through acupuncture, I know that over time, I won’t even need to go as often because acupuncture is more than a medicine that masks your symptoms or covers up ailments. It heals your body, brings it into alignment and balance. That is what it is doing for me. Acupuncture has helped me with stomach and intestinal problems, from acid reflux to Crohn’s to my stomach being upset, whether constipation or diarrhea. It has helped my bladder pain and irritation from IC. It has greatly helped my stress and anxiety.
Joe is so great, not only for being kind and patient and answering all my questions, but he answers emails too, and is very accommodating for patients and their schedules. The evening hours really work well for me and allow me to come each week. Also Joe gave me some herbal options and remedies that I take to help with my bladder symptoms and to help with regular menstruation, which is taking me towards getting off prescriptions, and being completely natural and holistic, which is my goal. I am so thankful to have found Joe and I would recommend Alban acupuncture to everyone (I already do), for no matter what pain, ailment, or health issue that you have. Acupuncture is such a positive addition to my life, and would be to anyone’s. I know it will always be a part of my life. Go natural healing!
Oct 1, 2012
The introductory class for Acupressure for Self Healing at the New York Open Center is on Monday November 5th 2012 at 6pm.
Interested in learning more about how you can use acupressure to relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, digestive problems, and improve overall health? Then you should come to my class at the New York Open Center in November 2012.
What is acupressure?
- Acupressure is a traditional Chinese healing art in which physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the hand (rather than with needles as in acupuncture), so it can be practiced by everyone.
How does acupressure work?
- Acupressure can helps to circulate and balance our qi (energy) to improve our overall health and wellness or help address specific conditions
What will I learn in the class?
- This course will introduce you to the basic concepts and practices of acupressure, including how to
locate points, how to diagnose imbalances in energy flow through the meridians, and how to apply pressure correctly. You’ll also learn some qigong breathing exercises and tui na massage techniques.
- By the end of the course, you’ll be able to use acupressure on ourselves and others to alleviate a range of ailments, including indigestion, PMS and menstrual cramps, headaches and migraines, back and neck pain, as well as to boost overall wellness and energy.
Jul 13, 2012
The heat and humidity this year is strong. Not only is it uncomfortable, many find that their headaches are increased during the hot and humid summer.
I previously wrote a post explaining how acupuncture understands the connection between hot weather and headaches.
Read more about acupuncture treatment of headaches:
May 31, 2012
A recent patient with headaches at my New York acupuncture clinic reminded me of the powerful way acupuncture treats the whole person.
She was coming in for tension headaches which were exacerbated by seasonal allergies. Stress was also a major factor.
The acupuncture had almost an immediate effect in reducing the headaches. After 4 treatments she had very little pain.
The following month this patient returned for follow up acupuncture treatment. And she reported she did not have any PMS or cramps that month.
The acupuncture treatment was focused on the headaches, but correcting the underlying imbalance helped to heal the whole person.
May 29, 2012
I developed seasonal allergies in my 20’s. For years I did not notice my allergies so much as I noticed I was moody when the flower bloomed. I didn’t understand if everything is so beautiful why was I feeling so blue.
Eventually I realized my headaches, stuffy nose, and moodiness was allergies.
Scientists have reported that depression increases with allergy symptoms. Most people thought that mood changes during allergy season were simply related to feeling uncomfortable from the sinus pressure, headache, sneezing, and watery eyes. Recently researchers have suggested there is a connection between the inflammatory processes that lead to allergies and the feeling blue.
Inflammatory diseases in general, such as asthma and psoriasis, have higher rates of depression compared to other chronic diseases. This may suggest that the inflammatory process itself has some influence on the development of depression.
Apr 18, 2012
Chronic rhinosinusitis is a chronic infection of the sinuses that causes nasal congestion, sinus pain, and headaches. Chronic rhinosinusitis, commonly called chronic sinusitis, affects your energy, sleep, and work. Some research suggest that chronic sinusitis can even lead to depression and anxiety.
Conventional medication often is not completely successful in treating the symptoms. Many patients have been turning to acupuncture Chinese medicine for help. In our New York City acupuncture clinic, we often use acupuncture, acupressure, and herbs to reduce the symptoms of sinusitis, especially during the spring allergy seasons which can exacerbate the sinusitis symptoms.
A comprehensive approach to chronic sinusitis
When it comes to treating chronic sinusitis, it is important to include many of the modalities used in acupuncture therapy. I use acupuncture, acupressure, and sometimes Chinese herbal remedies to help relieve the symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis, help people reduce medication, and avoid surgery.
The acupuncture therapy targets acupuncture points on channels that help reduce pain and pressure in the sinuses. Acupuncture points can be located on the arms or legs on channels which travel to the sinuses. These points are LI 4, LI 11, Lu 5, SP 9, ST 36, St 44, GB 34, and SJ 5. For some people, acupuncture points on top of or near the sinuses are needed. These points can include LI 20, ST 4, Bi Tong, and Yin Tang.
Acupuncture points selection is based upon the imbalances which cause the condition. For example, acupuncture discusses the circulation of energy, or qi, in the body. If there too little qi, a common cause of sinus headaches, then the qi should be boosted with ST 36 and SP 9. But if there is more heat which often happens with inflammation, acupuncture points such as LI 11 or ST 44 should be selected.
Acupressure on the neck, head, shoulders, and back helps to increase circulation, decrease pain, and drain the lymph. I will also instruct my patients on a self acupressure routine for patients to perform on their own. Often, patients will begin to feel relief after a few acupuncture sessions.
It is important to understand that acupuncture is not an either or when it comes to your conventional therapies for chronic sinusitis. The first goal to is help you feel better. When you are consistently feeling better you can work with your physician to reduce the amount of medication.
Research on the Integrative East West Medicine approach
A paper was recently published examining an east west integrative treatment protocol for patients with recurrent chronic rhinosinusitis (1).
The treatment involved a combination of the patient’s current therapies, most often nasal corticosteroid spray and nasal irrigation in addition to acupuncture, acupressure, dietary modifications, lifestyle modifications, and self-acupressure. As you can see, the researchers used a pretty comprehensive approach.
The study was small with only eleven patients. But it showed potential for this therapeutic approach. The patients, overall, reported improvements in their physical functioning, social engagement, less needing to blow their nose, and an improvement in their ability to concentrate. I hope that larger studies will be conducted to further explore the power of acupuncture to relieve symptoms, reduce dependence on medications, and help people avoid surgery.
1. Suh JD, Wu AW, Taw MB, Nguyen C, Wang MB. Treatment of recalcitrant chronic rhinosinusitis with integrative East-west medicine: a pilot study. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Mar;138(3):294-300.
Apr 16, 2012
This morning on NPR there was a very informative piece about the causes of migraines and why women suffer more from migraines than men.
The story explains the that one reason migraines occur is because of bursts of electrical activity in specific areas of the brain. Often they begin in the visual center, which is why people will get auras from migraines. Then it will travel through different regions explaining why there can be so many different symptoms related to the migraine headache.
Originally women were thought to get more migraine was because women cannot handle stress. However, now researchers are seeing links between hormone imbalances and migraines.
Acupuncture for Migraine headaches
Migraine headaches are very commonly treated with acupuncture. In our clinic, we use acupuncture and acupressure as an effective remedy to reduce the symptoms and frequency of migraines. Here are some testimonials from our patients who have found relief from migraine headaches with acupuncture.
Read more on acupuncture for migraine headaches:
Dec 27, 2011
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It consists of a large bundle of smaller nerves that begin in the lumbar spine, travel down the buttocks, and move through the leg.
Sciatica is a group of symptoms that affect the region of the sciatic nerve. Radiating pain is one of the more common and intense symptoms associated with sciatica. There can also be numbness and tingling starting in the lower back radiating down the leg. Acupuncture is very effective for relieving symptoms of acute and chronic sciatica.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica occurs when something pushes on the sciatic nerve. This can be a muscle spasm, the spinal discs, and sometimes even the spine itself. Most often this pain is due to muscle spasms or a slipped disc, but it can also be a sign of serious illness and it is important to go to your doctor for a diagnosis.
Spinal Disc herniation, often referred to as a slipped disc, is when a small portion of the spinal disc bulges out of the spinal column. This disc then pushes on the sciatic nerve causing pain. In some severe cases, spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal, can push on the nerve and cause pain. Another serious cause of sciatica is spinal tumors, which require immediate medical attention.
Muscle spasms are also a common cause of sciatica. Most often it is the piriformis muscle, but it can be other muscles in the lower back and pelvic region.
Piriformis syndrome can cause chronic sciatica. Sometimes the sciatic nerve runs under or through the piriformis muscle. This muscle is located in the pelvis. It is connected to the bottom of the spine and the top of the femur, or thighbones. If the piriformis muscle starts to spasm or becomes tight, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause the pain as well as the radiating symptoms. This persistent spasm of the piriformis muscle is called piriformis syndrome. It can be caused by an injury or sedentary lifestyles in people who don’t stretch or exercise. Particularly if you sit all day at a desk or computer, this can be a problem.
Acupuncture’s Approach to Sciatica
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine state that the body is interconnected; no one part can be separated from another. The diagnosis and treatment of sciatica is based upon identifying specific imbalances in the muscles and the body as a whole. Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body. Acupuncture treatment of sciatica will focus on relaxing the muscles and stretching the tendons and fascia. It can also help strengthening the muscles.
Acupuncture Diagnosis for sciatica
The most common acupuncture imbalance in acute sciatica is qi and blood stagnation in the back channels. Qi and blood stagnation in the channels often affects the soft tissue of the lumbar, hips, and pelvis. This is what causes the muscle spasm and tension that triggers the intense shooting pain of acute sciatica.
Other common acupuncture imbalances are kidney qi vacuity, spleen qi vacuity with dampness, and liver qi stagnation.
Kidney Qi Vacuity: If your back feels very weak and it does not get better with a lot of rest, the underlying imbalance may be kidney qi vacuity. Other symptoms include weakness of the knees, extreme fatigue, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and a weak pulse.
Spleen Qi Vacuity with Dampness: For those with spleen qi vacuity with dampness, you will also have fatigue and weakness, but the back feels better with rest. Your body may feel very heavy and you may have poor digestion.
Liver Qi stagnation: Liver qi stagnation causes your muscles to be very tight and in spasm when you become angry or frustrated. Also, you may suffer from frequent headaches and, in women, painful menses.
Acupuncture Treatment for Sciatica
I believe the most effective therapy for sciatica includes acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, and Tui Na, which is Chinese medical massage. In some cases, cupping and stretches are very helpful. The back, hip, and pelvis are interconnected and the treatment should incorporate the entire region.
Overall, the acupuncture treatment should relax and stretch the tendons and fascia while strengthening the muscles. This will help release the spastic muscles and strengthen them, allowing the back to naturally heal. It can even encourage an out of place disc to go back into place, depending on severity.
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulate the release of natural pain relieves in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulate pain relieving opioid receptors. Many studies have also shown acupuncture to have a anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (1). This will help to reprogram the muscles to stay relaxed, and in effect, encourage the body heal itself.
Chinese massage, or tui na, works to support the acupuncture by releasing any extra tension in the fascia and connective tissue around the muscles. The technique called rolling is very important to deeply relax the muscles and improve circulation at the same time.
After the pain is gone, it is important for you to exercise and stretch to maintain a pain free life.
If you have questions about acupuncture for sciatica, call us 917-887-4946 or click below to make an appointment online.
1. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
Written by Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
Last Edited 12/27/2011
Nov 28, 2011
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Everyone gets them from time to time, but in some it may become chronic. There is no need to suffer, acupuncture can treat your headaches and help you feel better.
You probably know when you have a tension headache. It is usually a dull aching pain that can come from being stressed out, upset, too tired, overworked, or stared at your computer too long.
There is often accompanied with tension of the neck muscles, pressure in the forehead, temples, or base of the skull.
For most people, the headache will last a few minutes to a few hours, but some have chronic headaches which occur for a long time. Severe chronic headache suffers can have it for more than a few days or months. Most cases are not an emergency, but if you experience an abrupt severe headache with a feeling of a snap in you head or if you headache is accompanied by a fever or trauma, you should go to the emergency room.
How does Acupuncture approach headaches?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by addressing imbalances in the body. Once the imbalance is corrected, the body works to heal itself.
Each person’s imbalance can be different. The treatment is tailored specifically to your symptoms and complaints.
When it comes to chronic pain conditions, it is important to consider both the mind and the body, which effect one another. Chinese medicine is quite specific about this, and each organ is effected by different emotions.
Often with headaches, the diagnosis can be associated with imbalances in the body’s energy, or qi. Qi is the body’s energy (Qi is pronounced “chee,” and is sometimes spelled “chi.”).
In Chinese medicine, it is said “When the qi flows there is no pain, when qi stops, there is pain and illness.” When qi circulation is damaged, it is called qi stagnation. This can often happen from stress and anxiety. There can also be too little qi, what we call qi vacuity.
Acupuncture Treatment of Headaches
Acupuncture works to correct the imbalance causing the qi stagnation. An effective acupuncture treatment is based upon a specific and accurate diagnosis. The acupuncture point selection is tailored to the patients imbalance. For example, if there is qi vacuity, we may focus on the acupuncture points Kidney 3, Spleen 9, and Lung 5. But if it is based in qi stagnation, the the acupuncture points liver 3, Large Inesting 4, and Gall Bladder 34 may be selected.
Also combining acupressure with the acupuncture helps to relieve the muscle tension also associated with the tension headaches. Usually people will feel relief after only a few weekly visits.
Physiological, acupuncture works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relievers in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors.
Acupuncture is also very relaxing. Most people feel very calm during the treatment and after the acupuncture treatment. This is because acupuncture does not separate the body and the mind. The mind influences the body, and the body influences the mind. So in treating the body we also relax the mind.
written by Joseph Alban
Last Edited 11/14/2011