Acupuncture Eases Headaches
By Kuan-Chung Chou, LAc
Acupuncture Eases Headaches
Headache is a common symptom with a complicated etiology. Headache may sometimes be a warning sign of a more serious medical condition. Most types of headache are tension related, migraine, or a combination of both.
Migraine is thought to be associated with an abnormal spasm of the blood vessels in the brain. Tension headache is associated with tension in muscles of the head and neck. The International Headache Society criteria for chronic tension-type headache are headaches on 15 or more days a month or 180 days per year, for at least six months. Four-seven percent of Americans suffer with chronic headaches. Acupuncture can be effective for both migraine and tension headaches.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, researchers said patients who were given acupuncture had fewer days of headaches than those who were not. They analyzed 401 patients from across the UK who reported several days of severe headaches each week. Patients received up to 12 acupuncture treatments over three months, and a control group offering typical medication. Patients receiving acupuncture experienced 22 fewer days of headache per year, used 15% less medication, made 25% fewer visits to their doctor and were absent from work 15% less than the control group. The result shows that acupuncture services could lead to significant long-term benefits for patients with chronic headaches.
It can be concluded that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for tension headache. Researchers in Germany divided 270 patients with a similar severity of tension headaches into three groups. Over an eight week period one set were treated with traditional acupuncture. Those receiving traditional acupuncture care saw their headache rates drop by almost half less headaches over the four weeks following the treatment. Improvements to headache rates continued for months after the acupuncture treatment. Those in the “no treatment” group were subsequently given acupuncture for eight weeks after the main study period. Those patients also improved significantly after the treatment. The research shows that acupuncture produces good improvements for tension headache.
The journal Headache published a study that found that supplementing medical management with acupuncture may result in improvements in frequency and pain intensity of headaches. In this study, conducted by the University of North Carolina a randomized, controlled trial of 74 patients with chronic daily headache compared medical management provided by neurologists to medical management plus ten acupuncture treatments. Daily pain severity and headache-related quality of life were measured. Medical management plus acupuncture resulted in an improvement of three points on the headache impact test and eight or more points on “short form 36 health survey”. After six weeks, patients receiving acupuncture were 3.7 times more likely to have less headaches.
Acupuncture is based on the idea that energy(Qi), flows along channels, or meridians, in a human body. Use of needles can stimulate these channels and influence the bodys electromagnetic fields. Traditional Chinese medicine treats the body as a whole system rather than treating specific diseases.