Cochrane reviews organize research findings to help simplify and point to evidence based options for treatments and interventions for different conditions. The most recent Cochrane review for the prevention of tension-type headaches focused on acupuncture.
The review included 12 trials which totaled to 2349 participants. The important thing to note is that the review looked at prevention of future tension-type headaches (a decrease in headache frequency).
Acupuncture vs Routine Care
When acupuncture was compared to routine care, the proportion of patients who experienced at least 50% reduction in headache frequency was significantly higher in the group receiving acupuncture.
Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture
When acupuncture was compared to sham acupuncture, the proportion of patients who experienced greater than 50% reduction in headache frequency 1-2 months after treatment was 52% for the group receiving acupuncture compared to 43% in the control group. Of note, a secondary finding found a small but statistically significant difference in headache intensity in favour of the acupuncture groups 3-4 months post treatment (but not at 1-2 months post treatment). Additionally, another small but significant effect was found with regards to the frequency of analgesic use during the the treatment in favour of acupuncture.
Acupuncture vs Manual Therapy & Exercise
The final portion looked at acupuncture compared to physiotherapy/massage/ and/or exercise. Unfortunately there was a higher risk of bias with these studies and according to the Cochrane review, “the findings were inadequately reported”. The results varied from no difference to manual therapy being superior. The concern, however was due to the size of these studies, and the age leading to limited quality and difficulty interpreting the findings.
The Cochrane review concludes that acupuncture is an effective treatment for episodic and/or chronic tension-type headaches and that further research comparing acupuncture with other treatment options is recommended.
Don't forget to check out how acupuncture can help prevent migraines!
Dr. McCann received her medical acupuncture training at McMaster University and is trained to assess and diagnose tension-type headaches and other headaches, determine effective treatment and refer to other health professionals when necessary. Call to book an appointment or if you have any questions: 905-235-6777
It is important note that with most insurance companies, the acupuncture provided at Haptic Health and Chiropractic will be billed under “chiropractic”. Haptic Health and Chiropractic is located in Sharon and provides service to York Region and the towns of East Gwillimbury, Newmarket, Aurora, Georgina, and Bradford.
Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Shin BC, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD007587. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007587.pub2.
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Dr. Judith McCann has been living in York Region for over 15 years. After going to Queen's University in Kingston for Kinesiology, and Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto to become a chiropractor, she decided to move back and open Haptic Health and Chiropractic in Newmarket. In February 2017, Haptic Health and Chiropractic moved 10 minutes up the road to Sharon in East Gwillimbury.