Acupuncture for Sinusitis Relief

By Dr. Abrahamson on
While sinusitis simply refers to inflammation of the nasal passages, the symptoms and treatments can prove more complex. An acute case of sinusitis (recently occurring) becomes chronic when medical treatments fail to cure the problem after 8 weeks.

The symptoms of sinusitis vary depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic. Many of the symptoms for either case are the same, though there are slight variations. With chronic sinusitis, in particular, symptoms last for 8 weeks or more and may include:

Facial pain and pressure
Nasal congestion due to insufficient drainage of mucus
Nasal discharge
Trouble breathing through the nose
Congestion/cough (may worsen in the evening)
Fever
Fatigue
Bad breath
Possible swelling in the eye area or face
Headache
Ear pain
Pain in the jaw and teeth, especially in the top
Sore throat
Irritability
Nausea

If a case of severe sinusitis develops, symptoms such as confusion, double-vision, stiff neck, swollen forehead and shortness of breath may happen as well.

Sinusitis occurs mainly in young and middle-aged adults, although children are also at risk. When the condition does present itself, it can be due to one of four main causes:

An infection from a virus, bacteria or fungus
Allergic rhinitis (swelling of the lining of the nose)
The formation of nasal polyps (growths inside the sinus passages)
A deviated septum (when the nasal septum, or thin wall between the nostrils, shifts to one side)

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine offers help for your symptoms of sinusitis–whether acute, chronic or frequently occurring. Your practitioner will want to know the severity and duration of symptoms to determine what the best method of treatment is. There are acupuncture points on the face that can help bring immediate relief from nasal congestion. One set of points lies in the folds of both sides of the nose, at the level of the nostrils. These points may also safely be self-massaged at any point to assist in clearing the nasal passages.

There are other acupuncture points that respond well to self-massage, according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. To help relieve pressure from a sinus headache, try gently but firmly pressing the points located at the beginning of your eyebrows, near the nose. In addition, you can try the same technique with a single acupuncture point found right between your eyes, at the level of the eyebrows. This point is called Yintang and is revered by many acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners for its ability to induce calmness and send energy or Qi in a downward direction; therefore, massaging Yintang is particularly helpful in cases of congestion and pain due to sinusitis, as blockages in the sinus make proper drainage difficult and potentially give rise to other symptoms of sinusitis.

However, if your face feels too tender for this massage technique, there is a point located on the hand that directly aids issues of the face and forehead, including headaches. This acupuncture point is located in the middle of the fleshy mound found between the base of the thumb and the first finger. Feel free to press here for any discomfort in the face, head or sinuses–whether your symptoms are from sinusitis or another condition.

 Self-Care for Headache Relief The next time you find yourself with a headache, or feel the tell-tale throbs of one about to come on, consider the possibility of being your own physician. By utilizing the heat and energy from your fingertips, combined with the guidance from acupuncture and Oriental medicine, you may be able to ease the pain and suffering from your headache. This is because specific points exist on the body that provide pain relief when activated by simple massaging techniques. When pressed with a moderate amount of pressure, these points can provide relief without any harmful side effects. This technique is known as acupressure.

Headaches present differently for each person, with varying degrees of pain, tension, and/or tenderness. So, a lot will depend on the location of the pain, as far as which points will require massage. However, locating the spots for massage is quite easy, as are the acupressure techniques themselves.

To begin, the first step is to sit comfortably, take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, and loosen any tension or tight muscles in the body. Performing acupressure while relaxed ensures optimal results.

Alleviate Forehead Headaches

One of the most important points for any kind of headache, but especially in the area of the forehead, is called Large Intestine 4, LI4. To locate it, start by putting your hand palm-side down.

Notice the line between your thumb and first finger. Follow this line to the bottom, by the base of the thumb. You should be able to see, and feel, a ‘mound’ of soft flesh on the side of the first finger. In the center of this mound is LI4, which comprises an area about the size of a nickel. There are different types of acupressure that may be used at this site. It is important to note that this point is to be avoided by pregnant women.

One technique is to squeeze LI4 between your thumb and your middle finger, applying deep pressure for 5 to 10 seconds, then releasing the pressure for 3 to 5 seconds. This can be done for 2 to 3 minutes. In severe cases, this point may stay pressed with heavy pressure until the pain reduces.

A different approach to stimulating LI4 involves vigorously tapping the right and left side LI4 points together. To do this, place your hands palms-down with your thumbs tucked underneath and out of view. Next, hit your hands together at LI4, up to nine times, and then end by gently shaking your hands. A variation on this technique involves rubbing the same area together for a few seconds, then stopping. This also can be done up to nine times. In addition to addressing the pain from a headache, performing these exercises at LI4 will also energize your hands and arms.

Relief for Headaches on the Side of Your Head

If your headache is on one or both sides of your head, which can include the temples, then applying pressure at a point called Stomach 8, ST8, may be the best selection. The English name of this point, Head Corner, gives us a clue as to where it is located. It is found about a centimeter into the hairline, above the outer corner of the eyebrow. Using a firm touch from your middle finger, press and hold for 10 seconds. Next, without lifting your fingers, make little clockwise circular motions for 10 seconds. Repeat this procedure in a counter-clockwise motion. This may be repeated for up to 3 minutes.

Relieve Pain and Tension in the Back of Your Head

For relieving pain and tension in the back of the head and neck, the area including and surrounding Gall Bladder 20, GB20, is an excellent choice. To find your right and left GB20, trace your finger up your spine to the base of your skull. You will find your left and right GB20 point about 2 inches outward from your spine, directly below your skull. The medical term for this part of the cranium is the occipital bone. Cradle the back of your head in both hands and use your thumbs to firmly rub back and forth right below your occipital bones. Create some heat with a vigorous rub, then use your thumb pads to press into the area. This can be done for 2 or 3 minutes.

There’s no reason to wait until you actually have a headache to give yourself a healthy dose of self-care though. Practicing these exercises on a daily basis may help prevent headaches, or may lessen the severity of pain if one does occur. To add a little zing to your massage, charge up your hands by rubbing them together quickly until you generate extra heat and energy to work with.

 Study Finds Acupuncture Reduces Frequency of Migraines To understand the long term results of acupuncture treatments for migraine headaches, researchers organized a randomized, clinical trial. The results of this trial appeared in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal in 2017, under the title of “The long term effect of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis.”

The study included 249 patients, aged 18-65 years old, who complained of migraine headaches without aura. Aura is a medical term describing the unpleasant experience which may accompany a migraine or a seizure. It is a disturbing change in vision, smell or thoughts, which precedes the onset of the event.

Each participant received 4 weeks of acupuncture treatments coupled with 20 more weeks of follow-up visits. The patients were arbitrarily divided into three groups–the true acupuncture group, the sham acupuncture group and a control group. The control group patients received no treatment.

To track the effects of the treatments, patients monitored their symptoms daily and recorded them in a personal diary. Researchers tracked the frequency of headaches, how long they lasted, the severity of, and any additional medications ingested by the patients. At the end of the trial researchers concluded that the acupuncture treatments significantly reduced the frequency of migraines.

Source:  Zhao L, Chen J, Li Y, Sun X, Chang X, Zheng H, Gong B, Huang Y, Yang M, Wu X, Li X, Liang F. The Long-term Effect of Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis “A Randomized Clinical Trial”. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(4):508–515. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.9378

Reduce Migraine and Headache Pain with AcupunctureMore than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Scientific research shows that acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches.

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives. A widely accepted form of treatment for headaches, acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes, have been treated successfully with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for thousands of years. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Oriental Medicine does not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of questions:
Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?

When do your headaches occur? (i.e. night, morning, after eating)

Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?

Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi. This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.

According to Oriental medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness.

Study finds Acupuncture Effective for Episodic Migraines Can a minimum of six acupuncture treatments actually reduce the number of migraine headaches? A 2016 study titled “Acupuncture for Preventing Migraine Headaches” sought to answer to this question. The study was published in the Cochrane Library.

A migraine causes severe pain, usually one-sided, and may be accompanied by nausea or photo-sensitivity. The results of the study showed that acupuncture is an effective treatment to reduce the frequency of migraines.

Researchers analyzed 22 trials, which included more than 5,000 patients. Several benefits from acupuncture were recorded. The average number of migraines was reduced. The benefits of treatment still persisted even six months after treatment. Sham acupuncture can provide a small benefit for certain patients.

The study found that if a patient had migraines six days a month then after six acupuncture treatments that number reduced to 3.5. If a patient was given sham acupuncture or prophylactic drugs, that number reduced to 4. Therefore researchers concluded that acupuncture is an effective, safe treatment for patients suffering from migraines.

Source: Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Vertosick EA., Vickers A, White AR. “Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine”. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001218. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub3
http://www.cochrane.org/CD001218/SYMPT_acupuncture-preventing-migraine-attacks



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