Headaches are a part of life, at some point everyone will get a few, but they should be only a short term occurrence. When they are constant or cyclic and affecting your daily life then it’s a problem. Migraines are a more severe form which are very debilitating. Often strong medications are given to try and control them, usually with bad side effects. In Acupuncture types of pain correspond to different types of blockages, which explain the causes of different types of headaches.
In clinic I tend to see common underlying patterns; in women they are often hormonal/menstrual related. They tend to occur either around ovulation or around the end of the cycle. The headaches also tend to be on the sides of the head. This is because these are the areas the Liver/Gallbladder meridians rule. The Liver plays a key role in storing and regulating the blood flow during a woman’s menstrual cycle. When blockages develop, this can manifest with symptoms around the times when the Liver is required to do more work, ovulation and menses. This often causes blockages in its own meridian and also its paired organ, which results in upper back/neck stiffness and temporal headaches. The headaches can vary from an aching type to a very sharp shooting type.
Other times they are brought about by digestive issues; The forehead region is ruled by the Yang Ming meridians, which relate to the digestive system. Often headaches brought on by foods and diet issues tend to manifest here with a heavy aching characteristic. Ever seen someone with an “ice cream headache”? this always occurs in the forehead. Believe it or not too but a lot of frontal sinus headaches are actually digestive in origin.
Another common cause of headaches is ongoing emotional stress. This too puts strain on the Liver and Gallbladder causing similar blockages as women with menstrual type headaches. It results in too much energy being sent up to the head causing the meridians to block and cause pain. The severity of pain reflects how bad the blockages are. By descending this excess energy we can hope to alleviate the headaches.
Types of Headaches
as headaches are such a common type of pain, several different types of headaches have been identified and categorised. A long extensive list can be found on the headaches australia site. Below are the more common types of headaches I regularly treat in clinic.