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Headache after acupuncture on head


Hi. I've had neck pain for about five years. It consists of dull ache, stiffness/decrease in range of motion, popping around spine/shoulders, and occasionally sharp pains from between shoulder blades to base of skull. After seeing many doctors, I'm trying acupuncture.

I just had my second session. After the first, I felt fine. However, yesterday (second treatment), my acupuncturist asked if I ever have headaches related to this condition. I explained that once in a while the pain radiates up to the base of my skull. This time, she tried a point on the top of my head. I should probably mention that this is acupuncture with a low amount of electricity going between the needles (I don't know if this is standard or not).

Starting last night and continuing this morning, I've had a headache and have been a little bit unbalanced. The headache isn't localized on the point, but I can't think of anything else I've done differently that would cause a headache. This isn't like the pain I occasionally experience from the neck pain, but is in the front of my head as well. I'm wondering if it is possible that using a point on the head with electricity would cause a headache like this. I'm going to ask her not to use this point again.



If you have had neck pain for 5 years and you have a headache from one treatment I wouldn&#39t worry about it too much. While your feedback will certainly be welcomed by your practitioner, dictating to them what points to use or not use will probably not go over very well. As a patient you need to provide proper feedback but you also have to have some faith in the process of treatment and in your practitioners experience. Not everything magically disappears and sometimes a minor upset to undo 5 years of pain and accomplish something that quite likely no other form of medicine could is not such a bad trade-off in my opinion.

Pain and headaches are both so commonly treated with acupuncture I cannot imagine anyone not being able to help you considerably, if not completely, within 4-10 treatments. If you are not better within that time frame see someone else but I suggest you simply give the process a little bit of time with your current practitioner.


Hi Nick

Your question inspired me to write an article "Self Help for Headaches" which is now posted on the site. In it I give a number of ideas you can incorporate. I would emphasize grounding. Many of us have an excess of energy in our heads and not enough energy in other centers, including heart and dan tien (abdomen). Consciously connecting with the body throughout the day is very helpful. Eventually it is good to be able to think without pulling all the energy into the head. As Master Chia teaches, the brain cannot store informaiton. Candace Pert did research indicating that the gut produces all the neurotransmitters found in the brain. Some call the gut the second brain, and there is a book with a similar title. There are Taoist meditaitons that develop the dan tien. The Microcosmic Orbit helps open that area and circulate the chi. The inner smile and six healing sounds, also part of the Healing Tao (aka universal tao) practices, also enhance the mind body connection.

For those in the Boston area, I teach these practices and there is a current six week class starting in Weston which is listed elsewhere on this site.



You don&#39t mention whether you have seen a massage therapist (tuina trained) or cranial sacral therapist. You might inquire as to whether referred pain is what you are experiencing. Trigger points alongside the trapezius muscle or having Sky Window at LI18 being choked off might be contributing to your ongoing problem.

Many people don&#39t take to the electrified needles. I&#39m sure adjustments can be made in that area or find another acupuncturist.

brenna j. wilcox


My husband went for accupuncture for the 1st time 2 days ago for stress and joint pain on my suggestion. The practitioner put needles in his temples, top of his head, calves, stomach and wrists. My husband had to have her remove one from his wrist as it was too painful and as soon as he left her office he has been experiencing sharp headaches that he didnt have prior to treatment. I went in yesterday to speak to the practitioner and she didnt really give me a reason why it was happening or if it was normal for this to happen. Today it is just as bad for him and even a bit worse. Is there a possibility she has harmed him in someway as this doesn&#39t seem normal especially being as he didn&#39t have any headaches prior to this treatment. There is also a hardish lump in his temple where she put one of the needles. He doesn&#39t want to get up out of bed the pain is that bad. Should we contact our GP? I am worried now. Thank you for your time


While I have no way of knowing the techniques used by the acupuncturist your husband saw, generally speaking acupuncture is essentially risk free. Certainly entirely incorrect points for their condition can lead to a irritation of symptoms (or new symptoms) - these, however, generally fade within 1-3 days. My response above is applicable to this as well.

The "lump" (technically a hematoma) I believe is at the point taiyang which has a tendency towards this. It happens from time to time because there is a blood vessel underneath the point. Now if the practitioner used incredibly strong techniques they could have caused damage to the blood vessel and/or the underlying nerves which could cause some temporary symptoms such as headache (the point is actually used to treat headaches). Not experiencing pain at the time of needling within that area more or less means that this did not happen (it&#39s extremely rare anyhow that someone would use that strong of a technique there). Generally I would say the symptoms should pass within a day or so.

And certainly not because of the hematoma or some sensitivity at a particular point - but because of the lack of a good answer as to what happened I would find another acupuncturist...


For first time acupuncture treatment got sharp pain, perhaps the patient had needle shock. by this situation the practitioner should take off all needles immediatly and let the patient have a good rest, drink some water.


Thank you Chad for your reply. He says he did feel pain when she inserted the needles into his temple where the lump occured and what you say sounds like we proububly do need to try another acupuncturist. He has actually been experiencing more stress and pain since the proceedure was done (it was done on Monday and it is now Thursday) so I think we will look around and look at patient reviews for other practitioners in the area. Thank you once again for your reply.


Thank you for your reply Feng. I think we are going to look for another practitioner and try again when he feels better.

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