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.)

Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention

Research from Italy: acupuncture for migraine prevention. A randomised controlled trial in Italy involving 160 women and studying acupuncture for migraine prevention, compared acupuncture treatment with flunarizine over a six month period. Both groups experienced a reduction in the frequency of attacks and drugs used for relief of the symptoms, but the number of attacks at the two and four month points, was lower in the acupuncture group. This was also the only group to show a significant reduction in pain intensity, and significantly lower treatment side effects.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture could be used to prevent migraine attacks, and it was more effective and better tolerated than flunarizine in the first months of treatment.

(Acupuncture in the Prophylactic Treatment of Migraine without Aura: A Comparison with Flunarizine. Headache Journal, 25 October 2002.)