Migraines can have debilitating effects on our activities of daily living. If you suffer from episodic migraines or know someone who does, you probably know the basic information (or you can find that info in our intro to migraines article). So what are some options? Recent research shows this therapy can help reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks: acupuncture!
Research into conservative management of this disorder has lead to an updated review by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for the prevention of migraines with acupuncture. This 2016 review concludes adding a course of at least 6 acupuncture visits to symptomatic treatment can decrease the frequency of migraine episodes. Additionally the authors found the effects of acupuncture may be similarly effective as compared to treatment with prophylactic drugs.
Keep reading for a breakdown of this systematic review.
Tension-type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder with a global prevalence of up to 1.68 million. According to one study, up to 78% of the population have experienced or will experience a tension-type headache in their lifetime (lifetime prevalence).
Tension-type headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days, are typically located on both sides of the head/neck, mild to moderate intensity, and have a pressing or tightening pain quality (non-pulsating). Additionally the pain does not become worse with routine activities (eg. walking up the stairs). While this headache is not associated with nausea or vomiting, it can be associated with photophobia or phonophobia.
It is possible for migraine and tension type headache symptoms to overlap or to have two concurrent headaches. If this is the case, you may be provided with a probable or mixed type headache diagnosis.
Migraines have huge negative effects on our quality of life. They typically last anywhere from 4-72 hours and may have a combination of the following characteristics: unilateral, throbbing or pulsating quality, moderate-severe pain intensity, and/or aggravation by movement (eg. climbing stairs). The headache is accompanied by at least one of the following symptoms: 1) nausea and/or vomiting and/or 2) photophobia and/or phonophobia (light or sound may be aggravating).
Migraines can present with or without aura. Migraines with aura will have unilateral fully-reversible visual, sensory, or other central nervous system symptoms that develop gradually. This is typically followed by the headache and associated symptoms. Over 90% of individuals who experience this type of migraine will experience a visual aura.
Manual therapy is one of the non-pharmacological treatments migraine sufferers can find relief with. This can range from soft tissue therapy (trigger point therapy, myofascial release), joint mobilization/manipulation, posture relief exercises and education, exercises and rehabilitation, and acupuncture.
Headaches are horrible. Whether you suffer from headaches on a chronic or infrequent basis they can be debilitating and prevent you from enjoying your normal activities. Despite this, many individuals “live” with it.
As a healthcare professional I find it astounding how far we’ve come with diagnosing headaches - there are a ridiculous number of subtypes of headaches (212 if I counted correctly) within the main headache groups (14 classifications). This article with briefly discuss the more common headaches that an individual will present with at Haptic Health and Chiropractic. Check back for articles on each of the headache types.
The most typical types of migraines include migraines without aura, migraines with aura, and chronic migraines. The most recent Global Burden of Disease Study found migraines to be the 7th leading cause of disability worldwide.
According to the International Headache Society, at any given point in time anywhere from 30-78% of the general population will have a tension-type headache (1) - this creates a huge socioeconomic burden on our society. The most common subtypes include infrequent episodic, frequent episodic, and chronic tension type headaches.
Dr. Judith McCann has been living in York Region for over 15 years. After going to Queen's University in Kingston for Kinesiology, and Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto to become a chiropractor, she decided to move back and open Haptic Health and Chiropractic in Newmarket. In February 2017, Haptic Health and Chiropractic moved 10 minutes up the road to Sharon in East Gwillimbury.