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botox or acupuncture for headache?

Botox® or Acupuncture for Headache?

Have you been reading about BOTOX® injections for the treatment of chronic headache? Have you wondered if acupuncture might be a better, less risky, and less expensive alternative? If so, please vist our site for more information on how we address migraine headaches and chronic headaches with acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

"BOTOX®" is a preparation of botulism toxin which has become a popular treatment for a variety of problems in which increased muscle tone has been diagnosed. Injection of the toxin into muscles results in a partial paralysis of the neuro-endocrine mechanisms which maintain muscle tone. It is, in essence, a pharmaceutical method of "snipping" bundles of muscles to make them weaker.

BOTOX® injections are very useful in some situations where the increased tone of the muscles is part of a pathologic hyperstimulation of the muscles by a diseased nervous system. For focal dystonia, there are few treatments which are as quickly effective as capably performed BOTOX® injection.

Nonetheless, the use of BOTOX® in other situations may have unexpected consequences. Most practioners using BOTOX® are using acupuncture points for injection, finding that the effect is better. If BOTOX® is to be used, it may be best to have an experienced acupuncturist inject the drug. However, BOTOX® injections may not be indicated for migraine, tension or chronic headache until less risky and expensive treatments have been found ineffective.

Most patients have mixed headache disorders and can suffer from several different types of headache. Many people do have increased muscle tension in neck and scalp musculature, which is part of underlying disorder which acupuncture addresses. But the problem is not that their muscles are "too strong". Postural and work related habit create at least some of the chronic headache problems which I see, and addressing these factors are helpful to eliminate other muscular and skeletal problems in addition to reducing the headache.

Weakening the muscles of the scalp or neck is a characteristically Western approach to the problem, whereas the Oriental approach would be to try to reduce the increased muscle tone through balancing acupuncture and herbal medicine. It is frequently the case that headaches are not an isolated phenomenon, and using the more holistic approach of traditional medicines, an entire symptom complex may be addressed.

As indicated earlier, by merely creating weakness in one set of muscles, with time the patient will compensate, and other muscles will increase their tone. The headaches may simply be replaced by another chronic pain problem. Botox® is also very expensive, and giving the right amount is essential. Too much and the muscle becomes too weak, causing new problems. Too little and the treatment is ineffective. Other disadvantages to botox injection are that treatment is temporary, and antibodies to the drug may develop over time. Injections may have to be repeated up to 5 or 6 times a year. Another factor to consider is the possible interaction between BOTOX® and other drugs the patient is taking.

Migraine and other types of headache are usually part of a symptom complex which may be best addressed by a wholistic approach. For example, if an imbalance is causing headaches in addition to a disturbance of the menstrual cycle, correcting the root source of the menstrual disorder will result in a better effect. In this case, treating the head pain in isolation is misguided.

The advantage of treating the root cause of disorders is that the patient's health is generally improved, and symptoms which are unaddressed by the narrow viewpoints of Western specialists are always taken into consideration. Techniques of traditional Oriental medicine for treating tension headache, vascular headache, migraine headache, and sinus headache are now available in Cleveland. For an initial consultation please call to schedule an appointment with us. We will send a package of forms and questionnaires and an appointment card along with a return envelope.

Recent interest in acupuncture has created an incentive for many headache clinics and neurologists to attempt to offer acupuncture. Few physicians have taken the decades of study required to understand this system well, however, and most are untrained in traditional Chinese diagnosis in addition to having minimal experience with acupuncture. Very few of these physicians are trained and capable in the use of Chinese medicinals, which are an essential aspect of the Chinese medical system. Patients need to question the doctor's experience when they are told that "acupuncture doesn't work".

Dr. L.B. Grotte, M.D., was the first physician in Ohio to be board certified in both acupuncture and Chinese herbology. He has studied Oriental medicine since 1972 and has practiced Oriental medicine in Cleveland for more than 28 years. Our small practice specializes in creating individualized treatment plans combining Western and Oriental methods. Call us at 440-461-7488 to make an appointment or visit our website for more information.

Click here to know more about how we help to relieve all varieties of headaches with acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine