Acupuncture effective in reducing chronic headaches


  • Tension headaches are considered chronic if they occur at least 15 days a month.
  • The only side effects of acupuncture were mild and required no treatment.
  • Results may not be applicable to all populations as the study was conducted in a single hospital.

For chronic headaches, people take acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain. Recently, researchers at the University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Chengdu have found that acupuncture can effectively treat recurring headaches. To that conclusion, they conducted a study, the results of which were published in the journal neurology June 22.

Two to three acupuncture sessions per week

To conduct their work, from June 2017 to September 2020, the authors recruited 218 people who had suffered from chronic tension-type headaches for approximately 11 years. Participants experienced headaches an average of 22 days per month. They were divided into two groups and randomly assigned.

Members of the first group benefited from real acupuncture sessions that caused “a feeling of deqi,” either tingling, numbness, or heaviness. The other volunteers received “superficial” acupuncture. In this case, the needles were placed less deeply so as not to provoke physiological reactions. All patients received two or three 30-minute sessions per week, for a total of 20 sessions, for two months and were followed up six months after the sessions.

“The primary endpoint measured in the study was a reduction of at least 50% in the number of headache days.” we can read in the searches. All participants visited their doctors every four weeks. They also had to record their symptoms and indicate when they took medication.

A reduction in the number of headache days per month

According to the results, 68% of adults who received real acupuncture sessions reported at least a 50% reduction in the number of headache days per month, compared to 50% of those who received acupuncture. In people who actually received acupuncture sessions, the number of headache days dropped from 20 days per month at the beginning of the study to 7 days per month at the end of the experiment. In patients who benefited from superficial acupuncture, it increased from 23 days per month at the start of the study to 12 days per month at the end of the work.

“Although this study showed that acupuncture can reduce headaches, more research is needed to determine the longer-term effectiveness of acupuncture and to compare it to other treatment options. By comparing treatment options, cost effectiveness is another important factor to evaluate.”Ying Li, author of the work, said in a statement.

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