Headaches are a very common health problem. They can be either chronic or episodic, depending on how often they occur. Most headaches are primary headaches, which means that they do not have an underlying cause. Secondary headaches are those that are caused by another health problem or by medication.
Headache is one of the most frequent reasons for medical consultations, in both general practice and neurology clinics.(Steiner 2007) Symptoms begin before the age of 10 years in 15% of people with chronic tension-type headache, and prevalence declines with age.(Lance 1965)
The origin of tension-type headache is multifactorial, but the actual cause is still unclear; there is a family history of some form of headache in 40% of people with chronic tension-type headache.(Russell 1999) British Acupuncture Council factsheet
Migraine is a primary headache disorder manifesting as recurring attacks, usually lasting for 4 to 72 hours and involving pain of moderate to severe intensity (IHS 2004). Typical characteristics of the headache are unilateral location, pulsating quality, moderate or severe intensity, and aggravation by routine physical activity. Sufferers may also experience auras, photo-phobia, nausea and vomiting. British Acupuncture Council factsheet
Acupuncture is a known and reliable method of easing the intensity and frequency of most types of headache. This latest recommendation from NICE that GP's should consider a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture for the preventative treatment of tension-type headaches and migraine is welcome news for those people suffering with these debilitating conditions.