Reuters news service has picked up a study that appears in the headache journal, Cephalalgia. The German researchers followed more than 15,000 adults with chronic (migraine or tension-type) headaches.
Of these patients, nearly 3,200 agreed to be randomly assigned to either have acupuncture added to their regular therapy or to stay with their usual care alone. The other 11,800 patients began acupuncture treatment. The acupuncture patients received up to 15 sessions over 3 months, and all patients were reassessed after 6 months. The study found that acupuncture patients reported greater pain improvements than those who stayed with their usual care only. Acupuncture patients dropped from an average of 8.4 headache days during 3 months to 4.7 by the study’s end as compared to controls who went from 8.1 days initially to 7.5 days at the end of the study..
“Acupuncture plus routine care in patients with headache was associated with marked clinical improvements compared with routine care alone,” writes the researchers, led by Dr. Stefan N. Willich of Charite University Medical Center in Berlin. This is the largest study to date that used acupuncture to ease headaches. It adds heavily to the body of evidence in support of acupuncture. Many studies found that adding acupuncture to standard headache medication brings patients additional pain relief, but some studies have found that “sham” acupuncture, using blunted needles that do not pierce the skin, was also effective.