Acupuncture can help reduce headaches for those suffering from chronic tension-type headaches according to a study in the June 22nd, 2022 online edition of Neurology (r) the medicine journal published by the American Academy of Neurology.
Tension-type headaches usually are characterized by a tightening or pressing sensation on both sides of the head that is moderate to light intensity. The headaches aren’t aggravated by physical exercise, and they are not associated with nausea. The tension-type headaches are considered to be chronic when they last for on a minimum of 15 days each month.
Tension-type headaches are among the most prevalent kinds of headaches and those suffering from frequent headaches may be searching for alternatives to medications. Our research found that acupuncture can reduce the average amount of headache days each month for patients struggling with painful and disruptive headaches.”
Ying Li, MD, PhD Research Author Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine situated in Chengdu, China
The study included 218 participants that were found to have chronic tension headaches. They suffered from chronic tension-type headaches for the average of 11 years and had 22 days each month of headaches in the average. Patients were randomized to receive the real acupuncture treatment or the superficial acupuncture. True acupuncture involves achieving an acupuncture deqi deqisensation that involves the placement and movement of the needle within the body in order to achieve the sensation of a tingling, numbness or heaviness sensation. The superficial treatments were of lower level of acupuncture in order to not achieve the deqi feeling. The two groups were treated to three or two sessions each week and a total of 20 sessions over two months. They were then followed by a further six months.
The primary outcome measured in the research was a decrease by at 50 percent in the amount of days that participants suffered from headaches. Participants had visits to the clinic at least every 4 weeks. The participants also used diaries of headaches to track their symptoms and the use of medications that were used for acute conditions.
In the final study 68% of people who received true acupuncture had at least a 50% decrease in the number of days with headaches as compared 50 percent of patients who received superficial Acupuncture.
Researchers discovered that the number of headache days per month gradually diminished following treatment, for patients who received real treatment with acupuncture and superficial treatments. If you received genuine acupuncture, headache days reduced to 20 per month, from start of study to just seven days per month at the conclusion in the course of study. If you received acupuncture that was superficial headache days dropped to 23 per month from start of the research to just 12 days per month by the conclusion period.
The most severe side effects of the treatment were slight and didn’t require treatment.
“While this study demonstrated that acupuncture may decrease headaches but further research is required to assess the long-term effects of acupuncture as well as how it compares with other treatments options,” said Li. “In the evaluation of the various treatment options, cost effectiveness is another aspect to consider.”
One of the limitations of the study was the fact that it was carried out in one institution therefore the findings may not be applicable to all people.
The study was funded through The Department of Science and Technology of Sichuan Province and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
American Academy of Neurology
Zheng, H., and. (2022) Acupuncture for Patients with Chronic Tension-Type Headache A Randomized Controlled Study. Neurology. doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000200670.