What are cluster headaches?

What are cluster headaches?, Linyana Gipson, L.Ac. in Upper West Side, Manhattan, NY 10024

There's many different types of headaches. You have tension headaches, sinus headaches, hormonal headaches, pregnancy headaches, etc. Out of all types, cluster headaches are one of the most excruciating anyone could ever experience.

Just like other migraine headaches, cluster headaches involve swelling and inflammation of blood vessels around the head. What sets it apart from other headaches is the type of pattern and frequency involved. When a cluster headache strikes, it usually affects the temporal location of the head. Intervals can last for weeks to months, pain can come about several times per day and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Cluster headaches usually affect men more than women, alcohol and cigarettes may play a factor, but scientifically, there are no known causes. Triggers of cluster headaches are not the same as other headaches.

Symptoms indicating a cluster headache would be excruciating pain on one side of the head usually around one eye. Other unilateral symptoms are a red and teary eye, drooping of an eyelid, sinus congestion, agitation and restlessness. 

Sufferers may not experience common symptoms associated with migraines such as nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances.

Acupuncture can help with cluster headaches in 2 ways: assisting when there's an acute attack and assisting with prevention between attacks.

As with all other conditions, a comprehensive intake must be conducted to develop a pattern for Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis. There's numerous channels that travel to the head; upon conclusion of diagnosis, the affected acupuncture channels will be addressed. For cluster headaches, the acupuncture points will most likely be placed on arms/hands and legs/feet.

A treatment plan will be developed to determine a number of treatments needed to address the problem. Most people with cluster headaches will need long term care, it is important to be patient with your body to give it time to heal.

If you suffer from cluster headaches and seeking acupuncture care, call for a free consultation at (646) 854-6619.

Waking with morning headaches

Blog, why am I waking up with headaches, acupuncture headache specialist, Linyana Gipson, Upper West Side, Manhattan

When you wake up in the morning, there's nothing more exhilarating than waking up feeling fresh and well rested, but many of my new patients tell me they feel the total opposite. Instead of waking feeling fresh, they wake up with a headache.

I've treated many patients suffering from headaches.

Some have headaches starting late afternoon.

Some have headaches that begin after a work day.

Some have headaches on weekends.

Some have headaches during their menstrual cycle.

The list goes on...

Simply put, having headaches are not fun no matter what time of the day, week, or month it happens. BUT waking with headaches can interrupt your entire day even before it begins.

Most headache sufferers have certain triggers that cause headaches, awareness of those triggers may or may not be present. There's a few reasons why morning headaches may happen...there's something being triggered before bedtime.

It could be red wine, headache medication taken at night, sleep apnea, low quality and quantity sleep, too much sleep, morning caffeine withdrawal, and many more.

Here's few suggestions you can do for your morning headaches.

Keep a journal 

Yes, I know it's time consuming, but it's better than suffering from headaches every morning. Your journal should include your activities and food/drink consumption the night before. It should also include the time you went to bed and any distractions you had prior to bedtime. You can keep your journal right on your smartphone!

Avoid medication

If possible, avoid taking OTC or PRN medication. Sometimes your body goes through withdrawals resulting in headaches. Please, always continue to take regularly scheduled medication as prescribed by your doctor.

Change your meal

Many people, especially busy New Yorkers, tend to eat the same thing pretty often. Try changing things up a bit with your meal plan. Try to avoid salt or take out that includes MSG, also try to avoid sugar and alcohol. 

Meditate before bedtime

The quality and quantity of sleep hours could be causing your morning headaches. Instead of watching the news (this may cause anxiety) or catching up on your favorite shows, put on guided meditation or relaxation music and focus on your breathing. Try to keep your mind still during this time. Please remember, you do not have to meditate for 30 minutes, just 5 minutes can do the trick.

Inhale lavender essential oil

Along with meditation, inhale lavender essential oil. Not only will it relax you, it will also help with your chronic headaches. Place a small amount on a cotton ball and inhale the aroma several times before starting meditation.

These examples are only a few that can help with morning headaches. The treatment of headaches is very complex; there is no cookie-cutter approach and each patient I treat is very different. If you have any questions, please feel free to schedule a free consultation or simply book an appointment to get started. 

Sinus Headaches and Acupuncture

Acupuncture, headache, pain, upper west side, new york, 10024, near me

Are you suffering from a sinus headache or could your headache be the result of a lingering cold?

You had a cold 10 months ago that you will never forget. You can't forget it because it was one of the most severe colds you've had in a long time, your body just wouldn't recover fast enough. During the time you had the cold, there was the usual fatigue, coughing with phlegm, and body aches. But you also noticed an unusual headache. If felt like a damp towel wrapped around your head, your head felt enormous, heavy and full.

After a week, your headache and cold was gone.

Fast forward a few months later, you get a cold again, but this time it was not as severe. You recovered quickly. Out of all symptoms, you noticed you had the same type of headache again. You felt the full heavy towel wrapped around your head sensation. 

A month passes and you're starting to feel sick again, but the only symptom you're having is a headache.

Several more weeks go by and again, you're getting this same annoying headache. Now you're wondering what the heck is going on...this is not you, you are healthy, you eat well. What is happening?

You probably decided to see a doctor in which a prescription was given for a diagnosis of having sinus headaches. You may have taken it thinking it would work indefinitely, but once again you are getting headaches.

Chinese and Western medicine are both able to help with symptoms. Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM has been around for over 2,000 years.

In TCM, your history is very important. With further examination and observation, you will probably have a diagnosis that consists of having a lingering external pathogen blocking the upper jiao and orifices of the head. Furthermore, damp/phlegm would probably be the primary culprit that has to be removed before strengthening your body and increasing immunity. 

With further interview and examination, the level in which the pathogen remains will have to be distinguished and well as other factors that may inhibit the body from healing well. Recommendations outside of acupuncture treatments will be given; those could be anything from changing eating habits to wearing a hat for head coverage. 

With several treatments, you are starting to have more energy, you're sleeping better. You are on a good routine. With regular acupuncture treatments, you've noticed you haven't gotten a cold and those awful headaches are now behind you. You're liking acupuncture...it worked!

Questions about your condition or to schedule a consult, call (646) 854-6619

How to Deal With Holiday Stress

How to deal with holiday stress, acupuncture near you, acupuncture New York City, acupuncture upper west side

Let's face it, every year we all go through the same thing. We either dread the holidays or we rejoice in the season. For some, the holiday is one of the best times of the year, but many people experience a level of stress that is like no other. For those individuals, here's a few things you can do to have an enjoyable holiday season.

First thing you should do is embrace that this time of the year makes you stressed and understand that it is okay to have those emotions. Once you're in tune with how you feel, you will be able to combat the situation with a clear mind. 

Secondly, learn to say no to people. You have to love yourself first before you can love other people and you have to prioritize yourself first before you can do so with others. If you have small children, that is different...

Third, turn off your television, play music you enjoy and dance! Dance in your kitchen while cooking, dance in your living room while cleaning, dance in your bedroom while dressing. Or just dance while doing nothing else!

Fourth, buy yourself a gift. The season is about giving to others, but sometimes you just want to buy something for yourself. Buy new perfume, or soft and warm socks, or satin pajamas. Buy yourself something that makes you feel good.

Fifth, hug someone. No, really hug them! I love when people give real hugs, it's different and it lets the person know that you are really aware of their presence. 

Last but not least. Get Acupuncture! It'll give you a sense of peace while enduring all of your stress. 

Happy Holidays!

Shoulder Pain & Gallbladder 21

Acupuncture for shoulder pain, Acupuncture on Upper West Side, Linyana Gipson

Does this sound familiar?

You have an all day seminar today and you're excited to be out of the office you attend 5 days per week. You've heard the presenter is very well known, so the information should be interesting. 

You get to the seminar, find comfortable seating and become engaged in the content the speaker is presenting. About an hour into the presentation, a deep heavy achy pain on the left side of your shoulder develops. You cannot shift your body too much because you will turn away from the speaker. You place your opposite hand on your shoulder and give it a tight squeeze to alleviate the pain. It feels good while your hand is in place, but does not last long. Now you have to endure this pain for the remainder of the presentation. 

What does this pain mean?

The pain on top of your shoulder presenting with a deep heavy sensation is very popular with most people and is directly related to acupuncture point Gallbladder 21. 

Each acupuncture point along the body belongs to a specific organ. In this case Gallbladder 21 is a point along the Gallbladder channel. The channel starts at the eye, goes to the head, the shoulder, the side of the body and down to the feet. 

How can Acupuncture help?

Most people has this type of pain, no matter their occupation. When I am palpating tender points along the body, the point on top of the shoulder is almost always one of them.

Here is how I treat this pain. Before beginning acupuncture, I loosen the muscle with a little tuina massage. I grasp and pull and rock until the muscle becomes nice and loose. This also helps with acupuncture insertion, tight muscles can sometimes be resistant. After tuina, acupuncture happens. Gallbladder 21 is the first point I'll use, but it is often coupled with other points along the channel.

When acupuncture is inserted, I'll usually add electrical stimulation to get a stronger effect with relaxing the muscle. When the acupuncture session is complete, cupping is added. This is a bonus and will have the shoulder feeling loose and fluid. An organic oil is applied to the area and warm cups are glided across the skin. This effect increases further relaxing.

What you can do yourself.

If you are into essential oils, there's a good blend to use (you can mix yourself). It contains peppermint, wintergreen, clover bud, and helichrysum. I purchase this already mixed. The oil should be massaged into the skin, make sure to use a carrier oil, like coconut, to avoid irritation. You can also use pain patches when you are anticipating being in the same position for a prolonged period of time. The pain patch I give my patients is called Pain Terminator and it is amazing!

If you have any additional tips, comment below or if you'd like to learn more about acupuncture and how it can help you call/text (646) 854-6619.

Could over-the-counter drugs be the cause of your headache?

Acupuncture for rebound headaches, upper west side, New York, NY 10024, Linyana Gipson

What are rebound headaches?

Rebound headaches are associated with over-the-counter and prescription drugs. It comes about when those drugs are taken frequently over a long period of time. Most people who suffer from headaches reach for Tylenol or aspirin as a quick fix for alleviation and that is ok, but when people who suffer from headaches regularly reach for pain medication, it can become a problem.

There are 2 types of OTC drugs used for headaches: acetaminophen & non-steroidals.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a drug found in most households; it is a pain reliever (analgesic) and fever reducer (antipyretic). The drug works by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins, a natural chemical in the body that promotes swelling and inflammation that results in pain. When Tylenol is taken, the activity of prostaglandins is blocked and the reduction of pain is the result, but the drug itself does not reduce inflammation.

Non-steroidals or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) include aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). It too, works by blocking the job of prostaglandins, but unlike acetaminophen, it also helps to reduce inflammation. NSAID's works on a broad range of tissues and acetaminophen works more specifically on tissues of the nervous system. Please keep in mind that over-usage of NSAID's can cause upset stomach and even stomach bleeding; one of the most common hospital admissions in the United States.

Excedrin: A combination drug for headaches.

Excedrin contains aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine. It works by reducing certain chemicals in the body that creates pain and inflammation; it also constricts the blood vessels which further helps to reduce migraine symptoms. It is great for temporary usage, but once the drug wears off and the blood vessels are no longer artificially constricted, inflammation and swelling of blood vessels can be even more severe prior to taking medication.

Avoiding rebound headaches.

Acetaminophen and NSAID's should be used for irregular occurring acute symptoms only, not chronic symptoms occurring longer than 3 months. If you have headaches more often that not, you should think twice about taking these OTC drugs. If you are taking OTC medication more than 15 times per month, you are probably overusing, resulting in rebound headaches. To avoid rebound headaches, journaling will help. Pay attention to how often you are getting headaches and how often you reach for a quick fix (an OTC drug).

Once you have determined if your ongoing headaches are being induced by pain medication, you can develop a plan to stop. If you stop abruptly, your body may go through withdrawal symptoms resulting in increased headaches.

Acupuncture has the ability to help decrease the frequency and severity of headaches without having to endure side-effects of what medication causes. Acupuncture can also help with the side-effects your body will go through once you stop taking those over-the-counter drugs.

Managing Pain in Fall Weather

Fall Weather, Acupuncture, Back Pain, Knee Pain, Migraine, Headache

While treating a patient this week, I asked the level of pain the patient was experiencing. This is my standard question for everyone at the beginning of treatment so that we can reflect on improvement at the end of therapy or at their next appointment. The patient answered the question stating that the pain level was low, but had also felt slightly increased more than usual because of the seasonal change.

As we all know fall season is upon us and it's bringing in that crisp, cool, and damp weather. I know many people who enjoy fall weather but for people suffering from pain it's another obstacle they have to endure while undergoing pain management. Some people, not all, have increased pain in the morning due to cool and damp weather; it is especially prominent in people suffering from arthritis. 

There are activities you can do at home in between treatments to help combat your pain. First thing is to keep going...I always tell my patients how "stopping" due to pain will have the body "stuck". You have to keep your body moving. Secondly, you can use a heating pad on the painful areas, such as your knees and back to soothe the area and increase circulation. Please keep in mind, if you have numbness, keep the heating level low. 

Third, start to cook with seasonal foods that are found in the fall. A few vegetables to include would be cabbage and squash. Here is a great east Indian-style cabbage dish recipe from the book titled Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.

1 medium cabbage, chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp each coriander, cumin, grated ginger
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 cup almond milk

  • Heat oil. Add mustard and cover. Allow them to pop and dance inside the pot for a few minutes.
  • Scatter in remaining spices and stir once.
  • Add cabbage. Saute 8 minutes.
  • Add milk and cover.
  • Simmer on low heat 30 minutes until tender and bright light green.

As always, it's important to see your acupuncturist or health advocate on a regular basis. Sometimes, our body just needs a little attention and encouragement.