Any pain can cause discomfort to a person, but when individuals suffer with headaches this pain can be debilitating. The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives. Acupuncture San Diego offers relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine have been used to relieve Headaches and Migraines, and recent studies show that it is more effective than most conventional treatments for long term relief (please see the study below for more information.)
Acupuncture San Diego does not recognize migraines and recurring headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Treatment will depend on a number of variables: Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head? When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)? Do you find that a cold compress or a dark room can alleviate some of the pain? Do you describe the pain as dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing? Is it associated with your menstrual cycle?
A new report published in the online version of the British Medical Journal 1 has found that acupuncture is a useful, cost-effective treatment for chronic headaches, particularly migraines. The report found that over a 12-month period, headache patients who received regular acupuncture sessions reported fewer headaches, had a higher quality of life, missed fewer days from work, used less medication, and made fewer visits to a general practitioner than patients given standard treatment for headaches.
The research was conducted at a series of single acupuncture practices and general practices in Wales and Great Britain. In the study, the authors recruited 401 patients who suffered from chronic headaches, predominantly migraine headaches. The patients were randomized to receive either acupuncture or “usual care” from a general practitioner. In the acupuncture group, subjects standard care for headaches, and were also treated with acupuncture up to 12 times over a three-month period. Treatment patterns were individualized to each patient, and different points were used based on the discretion of the acupuncturist providing care. In the usual care group, patients received standard headache care from their general practitioner, but were not referred out for acupuncture.
Initially, there was not much difference between patients in either group. By the 12-month interval, however, striking differences were noted in terms of frequency of headache, doctor visits and medication use:
- Patients given acupuncture had an average of 1.8 less days with headaches over the first four weeks of the study compared to the control group. When projected over 52 weeks, the authors estimated that acupuncture would result in an average 22 fewer days of headaches per year.
- The effects of acupuncture appeared to be long-lasting. At the start of treatment, the average weekly headache score among acupuncture patients was 24.6. Three months after the start of the study, the average score had dropped to 18.0; at 12 months, it had dropped by more than 34 percent, to 16.2. In the standard care patients, weekly headaches scores dropped only 16 percent over the course of the year.
- Results from the SF-36 questionnaire showed significant benefits for acupuncture patients in terms of physical role functioning, energy levels and changes in health. Over the course of a year, physical role functioning, energy and health change scores increased an average of 9.6, 7.4 and 10.3 points, respectively, for those in the acupuncture group. These scores also increased in usual care patients, but at much lower levels.
- Acupuncture patients used an average of 15 percent less medication to treat headaches than patients receiving only usual care. They also made 26 percent fewer visits to a general practitioner, and missed fewer days from work due to sickness.
“Acupuncture in addition to standard care results in persisting, clinically relevant benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine, compared with controls,” the researchers commented. “We also found improvements in quality of life, decreases in use of medication and visits to general practitioners, and reductions in days off sick.”
- Vickers AJ, Rees RW, Zollman CE, et al. Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomized trial. British Medical Journal Online First; doi:10.1136/bmj.38029.421863.EB. Published March 15, 2004. Available at www.bmj.com.
- Acupuncture beats headache pain. BBC News, March 15, 2004.
- Acupuncture Today, May 2004 at www.acupuncturetoday.com