Acupuncture May Help Tension Headaches

| October 1, 2012 | 0 Comments | 127 views

July 28, 2005 -- Acupuncture may help tame tension headaches.

German researchers tested acupuncture on 270 adults with tension headaches.Some patients got traditional acupuncture. Others got "minimal"acupuncture, with needles placed superficially at nonacupuncture points. Athird group went on a wait list for acupuncture.

Both acupuncture groups had similar drops in headaches, with benefitslasting months after treatment stopped.

The two methods may have been equally effective, or perhaps patients' highhopes played a role, write the researchers in BMJ Online First.

About Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for thousandsof years. More recently, it's drawn attentionfrom Western patients, doctors, and researchers.

In traditional acupuncture, needles are placed in specific spots fordifferent conditions. The goal is to unblock or rebalance the flow of qi(pronounced "chee"). Chinese medicine holds that qi is a type of energythat flows along pathways called meridians in the body.

Relieving Tension Headaches

Lots of people wanted to sign up for this study. The researchers got about2,700 applicants. They took only a tenth of that number.

About three-fourths were women. They were around 43 years old, on average.Some had tension headaches more than 15 days per month; others had headachesless often. None had migraines.

Both acupuncture groups got 16 half-hour sessions over 12 weeks. Thewait-listed group got acupuncture three months after the other patients.Meanwhile, all patients kept headache diaries.

Study's Results

Headache-free days improved in the acupuncture groups during the first 12weeks:

Traditional acupuncture: 7.2 more headache-free days Minimal acupuncture: 6.6 more headache-free days Wait list: 1.5 more headache-free days

The study lasted another 12 weeks. Some patients still had headache benefitsduring that time, even though they weren't getting acupuncture any more.

That's "intriguing," write the researchers. They included WolfgangWeidenhammer of the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research in Munich,Germany.

When the wait-listed patients finally got acupuncture, they also had fewerheadaches than before. But their improvements weren't as dramatic.

Patients' Beliefs, Side Effects

The researchers aren't sure if the results were due to acupuncture or to thepatient's "high expectations."

The patients weren't told which type of acupuncture treatment they weregetting. But some apparently figured it out, write the researchers.

Few patients had side effects. Their cases were not serious.

The most common side effects were headache or other pain, dizziness, andbruising.

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