Acupuncture May Improve Symptoms of Chronic Headaches
In an observational study involving 2,022 patients with chronic headaches of varying types, treatment with acupuncture was found to significantly decrease the frequency of headaches and improve symptoms such as disability and quality-of-life. The study was carried out in Germany, and subjects received acupuncture treatments under conditions of routine care within the framework of statutory health insurance in Germany. Subjects were divided into 4 groups based on the diagnoses of their headaches: 1) 732 subjects with migraine headaches; 2) 351 with episodic headaches; 3) 440 with chronic tension-type headaches; and 4) 499 with other forms of chronic headaches (cluster, vascular, drug-induced, etc.). Considerable differences in sociodemographics and baseline characteristics were found between the 4 groups. Before receiving acupuncture, after the treatment period, and six months after inclusion in the study, subjects completed various questionnaires, assessing the number of days with headaches, disability (Pain Disability Index), and quality-of-life (SF-36). Subjects were treated with acupuncture for a mean of 8.6 sessions, by 1,418 different physicians. Results found that subjects in all four groups reported statistically significant improvements in all clinical outcome measures. Over half of the subjects reported a reduction in headache frequency by at least 50% after receiving acupuncture treatments, as compared to baseline. The results of this epidemiological study suggest that acupuncture may be a safe and effective option for persons experiencing chronic headaches, regardless of headache type.
"Acupuncture for chronic headaches--an epidemiological study," Melchart D, Weidenhammer W, et al, Headache, 2006; 46(4): 632-41. (Address: Department of Internal Medicine II, Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Technische Universitat Munchen, Kaiserstr. 9, 80801 Munich, Germany).
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