Acupuncture for Chronic Headaches

A one year randomised controlled trial was conducted, comparing acupuncture with no acupuncture for chronic headaches. A total of 401 patients aged 18-64 experiencing chronic headaches, predominantly migraine, were enrolled. Patients were drawn from GP practices and randomly allocated to receive up to twelve acupuncture treatments over three months.

Those in the acupuncture group reported 22 fewer days with headache in the year and used 15% less medication. They also made 25% fewer visits to their GP, and had 15% fewer days off sick than their counterparts given the usual care. The researchers concluded that acupuncture leads to lasting benefits for patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine, and that an expansion of NHS acupuncture services should be considered.

(Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomised trial. British Medical Journal, 25 March 2004.)