One interesting therapy for headaches, which generates a lot of questions from patients, is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy which has been around for centuries but only came around to wide spread use in the West (United States and Europe) in the 20th Century. Acupunture uses very small diameter needles, almost the size of a thorn that might get stuck in the skin, however the way the it is applied can be be painless and quite relaxing at times.
There are many misconceptions about acupuncture. One question I get regularly is “Do you think acupuncture works?” This is a difficult question to answer because acupuncture doesn’t lend itself to scientific inquiry like neuroscience does, however it has shown to be quite effective in many of my patients (especially those with sciatica). As an integrated clinic of chiropractic, functional medicine and functional neurology, we are constantly learning and evolving our scope of practice to include the most effective natural therapies available. (soon to combine naturopathic medicine within our clinic)
One of the misconceptions we have in the West is that acupuncture therapy is painful. In my experience, when performed properly acupuncture is actually very gentle and painless (unless you start moving while the therapy session is still going!)There seems to be a belief that some book or body of literature exists, that describes the “proper” method for placing needles to achieve the desired result of headache elimination or other therapeutic outcome. Indeed, there are a number books which have been published and seminars are given quite frequently that are designed to explain the “how to” of acupuncture.
Circling back to my patients’ question, “does acupuncture work?” – I tell my patients that as long as disposable sterile needles are utilized, and the practitioner is experienced then I have no objections to patients trying acupuncture, or any other safe procedure to treat their headaches.