These days I am seeing more patients, of both genders and all ages, that have headaches and migraines. The causes of their headaches and migraines and their symptoms are as different as their individual personalities, with just as many different possibilities for treating them.
As with all acupuncture appointments, we start with a conversation that has me asking a copious amount of questions so that I know how to best treat your specific case.
Location of Headache or Migraine
We start with where you are noticing the symptoms that you recognize as the beginning of the headache or migraine. Next, does it move, what is the path it takes, and where does it stay for the rest of headache or migraine? Symptoms often move and change as they progress. For instance, does it start over your eye or with a spasm in the neck? What path does it take to where it goes next, and does it stay there until it is gone?
Frequency and Time of Day
How often do you experience headaches or migraines? Is it once or multiple times a day, week, or month? When do you experience your episodes? Is it in the morning? After lunch? Sunday night in dread of Monday morning? Before big exams?
How long does each episode last? 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, etc.?
How bad is your pain? Do you have to separate yourself from society and sleep, or can you just take ‘something’ and feel better?
Type of Pain
What type of pain are you feeling? Is it sharp and stabbing, electric, throbbing, dull, or a mixture of different pains that change as your migraine or headache progresses? Is it one type of pain that is constant during the episode or do you get other types of pain intermittently?
What works for you?
Does a cold or heat pack help relieve your symptoms? How about pressure, going to a dark room or quiet space, drinking a glass of water, taking a shower, a nap, or drinking a cup of coffee? What helps even the tiniest bit?
For women, does it come at a particular time of month? Do you notice if it is before your period, during your period, or around ovulation? Is your period different than the past?
Has your period regulated or deregulated? Are your hormones seemingly all over the place?
Do you get the headaches or migraines with weather changes: before, during, or after it rains, when it gets hot after being cold, when it gets cold after being hot, when it is windy? Do you get them during any type of weather shift?
Do you notice them starting with moderate or extreme moments of stress? Can you pinpoint what is causing the stress?
Does dehydration play a role in your migraines? How much water are you drinking in a day? And no; tea, coffee, soda, or flavored beverages do not count.
Do foods trigger your migraines? Do you have food allergies or sensitivities? Have you eaten chocolate, soy, fermented cheese or drank wine? Are you craving any specific foods before, during, or after your headache or migraine? Have you had too little or too much caffeine?
Do allergies play a role? Do you have more migraines during certain seasons? Are you prone to sinus infections?
Have you ever, at any time in your life, had an injury to your head, neck, chest or back?
Besides stress, are you noticing any emotions before your headaches or migraines start? Are you angry at a co-worker or family member?
Do you have any other health issues? Diabetes, blood pressure issues, thyroid issues, digestion or elimination problems, or cancer? Is there anything that already has your system actively working against or for some other issue?
Headaches and migraines are very specific to the person in front of me. All of the questions that I ask give me the information I need to treat you accordingly. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, really take a minute and think about what the common threads are that run between your migraines. It may help to keep a migraine journal for a while. The more you know about yourself and your symptoms, the more I can do to help you feel your best!
|Allison Andersen, L.Ac., DOM, is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, who sees patients as a whole and provides treatments that complement their lifestyle, wellness goals and medical needs.|
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