Headaches vary dramatically in presentation, severity, and frequency. For some they can be debilitating, for others they are only a mild nuisance. It is estimated that around 8 million people will visit their doctor with a complaint of headaches each year, while another 40 million will experience headaches and not seek medical attention. Acupuncture can provide effective headache relief for millions of headache sufferers.

Acupuncture has no adverse effects

While visiting a medical doctor is a great first step if you are experiencing headaches, there aren’t many avenues for treatment other than medication. Taking meds for headaches may or may not improve the frequency, severity, or duration of headaches and can also come with unwanted side effects.

Acupuncture, when administered by a trained professional, has virtually no adverse effects and has been shown to reduce symptom severity for 2 major types of headaches. These types include tension headaches and migraines.

Successful treatment of tension headaches

Tension headaches are one of the most common presentations. They come and go at random intervals and can be exacerbated by stress and poor posture. The discomfort from tension headaches is often felt as a band around the head, however the root cause is muscles of the neck and upper back. When muscles are chronically stressed and under tension, they begin to adapt and develop tight bands and trigger points within. Trigger points in the musculature then refer pain and discomfort to other areas of the body, in this case the head.

With the root of tension headaches being muscular, they tend to respond fairly quickly to acupuncture treatment. On average 4-8 visits should lead to resolution of symptoms assuming posture is addressed and the patient is able to comply with at-home exercises.

On-going treatment to reduce migraines

Migraine headaches can also be addressed with acupuncture, but it’s generally a longer term plan. In addition to acupuncture, the treatment plan for migraines includes lifestyle modification and avoidance of migraine triggers, such as red wine and dark chocolate. The frequency that each individual experiences migraines may vary. Because of this, it is important that the patients come in consistently enough to see if acupuncture is interrupting their pattern of headaches.

It is recommended that people who experience migraines seek out treatment prior to their next episode instead of waiting for it to begin. With regular treatment you may still experience another migraine, but we are looking for the frequency, duration, or intensity to decrease by the end of the plan.

If you experience either of these types of headaches, get in touch with Hyatt Strength + Wellness to learn firsthand about using acupuncture for headache relief.

Learn more about acupuncture at Hyatt Strength + Wellness, Adam’s philosophy and expertise and/or book your appointment online today!

Hyatt Training Portland personal trainer Adam GawlakAuthor Adam Gawlak is a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). His specialities include sports medicine acupuncture, motor point acupuncture, trigger point needling and traditional Chinese medicine, along with strength training, athletic performance, and corrective exercise.

Learn more about Adam, or get in touch with him by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.


Burch, Rebecca, et al. “The Prevalence and Impact of Migraine and Severe Headache in the United States: Figures and Trends from Government Health Studies.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, vol. 58, no. 4, 2018, pp. 496–505., https://doi.org/10.1111/head.13281.

Li, Yu-Xi, et al. “Effectiveness and Safety of Acupuncture for Migraine: An Overview of Systematic Reviews.” Pain Research and Management, vol. 2020, 2020, pp. 1–14., https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3825617.