June is designated National Migraine Headache Awareness Month. In recognition of this today’s post is related to the topic of migraine headaches.
A group of researchers in China recently designed a study to investigate the long-term effects of true acupuncture on migraine headaches. A total of 249 subjects with ages from 18 to 65 years old and who had migraine headaches 2-8 times a month were included in the study.
The study lasted 24 weeks, and consisted of 4 weeks of treatment followed by 20 weeks of follow-up. Participants were randomized to a true acupuncture group, a fake acupuncture group, or a control group (wait list). Those in the true and fake acupuncture groups were treated 5 days a week for a total of 20 treatments, usually 30 minutes each visit.
The outcome measure of the study was the change in frequency of migraine headaches from the start of the study until 16 weeks. This was assessed by a migraine diary. A total of four acupuncture points were used for each treatment, two of which were fixed points that were used in each treatment session.
At the end of the study researchers found that in the true acupuncture group the frequency of migraines, number of days with migraines, and pain intensity of migraines was reduced to a greater degree than that in the fake acupuncture or control group.
Two important additional points- although the acupuncture was only administered for four weeks the benefits last until the end of the study, which was 24 weeks, or 20 weeks after the last session of acupuncture. Also, the study consisted of 77% women, who suffer from migraines disproportionately.
It is estimated that over 37 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches. These are found most often in folks between the ages of 35 and 55, and are much more common in women than men. Based on the results of this well-designed study perhaps acupuncture should receive more consideration as a prevention strategy for these debilitating headaches.
(Source- JAMA Internal Medicine 2017; 177 (4))
This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.