Headache is one of the most frequent reasons for medical consultations, in both general practice and neurology clinics. Tension-type headaches occur in up to around 80% of the UK adult population and are more prevalent in women (65% of cases in one survey). Symptoms begin before the age of 10 years in 15% of people with chronic tension-type headache, and prevalence declines with age. The origin of tension-type headache is multifactorial, but the pathogenesis is still unclear; there is a family history of some form of headache in 40% of people with chronic tension-type headache.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress
Acupuncture may help to relieve tension-type headache by:
increasing endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels, which can help to combat negative affective states.
stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
reducing inflammation, by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
increasing local microcirculation, which aids the dispersal of swelling.