Knocking Out Headache Pain with Acupuncture

By Sherri Kightlinger

When a friend described the long-lasting results from acupuncture on a knee injury, Julie was intrigued and needed to know more.  Motivated by frequent, debilitating headaches that lasted for days, she began her research. Her findings led her to Euclid Hospital’s Pain Management Center and acupuncturist Timothy Rhudy, M.S., L.Ac.

Today Julie is thrilled with her outcome. Acupuncture worked quickly for her and has significantly helped manage her headaches. As a mother of two children, she cannot afford to be sidelined. “I could never plan anything because I never knew when I was going to be functional,” says Julie. “Now I can participate whenever.”

When her headaches began over two years ago, Julie immediately went to her primary care physician who sent her to a neurologist. After a CAT scan and an MRI, she learned she had two herniated discs in her neck as well as the migraine headaches. “I was on so many different medications with all of the side effects and still was having incapacitating headaches. I had visited headache specialists, went to a migraine center, and also was seen by an orthopedic surgeon that recommended a spinal block. After researching the similarities of a spinal block to acupuncture, that’s when I seriously considered it,” explains Julie. “I felt that compared to a spinal block, acupuncture was non-invasive and I had nothing to lose.”

Rhudy is very pleased with his patient’s outcome. “The type of acupuncture that I practice is called Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM) and it is highly effective at releasing myofascial “holding patterns.” The word myofascial is a combination of two Latin words "myo" for muscle and "fascia" for band.  Fascia become tightened or constricted due do injuries, stress, trauma, or poor posture. This restriction or tightness to the fascia can spread to other places in the body and create “holding patterns” that need to be unblocked.  If the muscle pain, or structure is restored, then function should improve. In Julie’s case, we have been very successful at managing her pain,” explains Rhudy. She had surgery on her herniated discs this past year and was able to resume acupuncture shortly thereafter.

The needles used by licensed acupuncturists in the U.S. are very fine, one-inch, stainless steel, sterile, disposable needles.  Julie has been receiving acupuncture for more than a year now. In describing how the needles feel, she says, “Sometimes I do not even feel it. Other times it is like your muscles are twitching. It’s very relaxing.”

Rhudy agrees. “Many of my patients become very restful. The needles stay in up to 20 minutes and occasionally I hear them snoring on the table. Ideally, during the treatment time, the body is switching from a fight or flight disposition to rest and digest.”

Julie has learned that while her headaches are caused by a variety of factors including her neck, hormones, and muscular tension, stress is a definite trigger.

Steeped in ancient Chinese culture for thousands of years, acupuncture is a relatively new therapy in the U.S. It has proven to be an effective, safe therapy for chronic pain, chronic fatigue and other stress disorders. It is also an effective complement in the medical care of myofascial and neurological pain, headaches, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal, gynecological and respiratory disorders, to name a few. Acupuncture has been offered by Euclid Hospital for the past several years.

“I plan to keep acupuncture in mind for other medical conditions,” says Julie. “I hope that others will become aware of its usefulness and it can help them to enjoy better health.”


For an acupuncture appointment or questions, please contact Tim Rhudy.