Migraines can have debilitating effects on our activities of daily living. If you suffer from episodic migraines or know someone who does, you probably know the basic information (or you can find that info in our intro to migraines article). So what are some options? Recent research shows this therapy can help reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks: acupuncture!
Research into conservative management of this disorder has lead to an updated review by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for the prevention of migraines with acupuncture. This 2016 review concludes adding a course of at least 6 acupuncture visits to symptomatic treatment can decrease the frequency of migraine episodes. Additionally the authors found the effects of acupuncture may be similarly effective as compared to treatment with prophylactic drugs.
Keep reading for a breakdown of this systematic review.
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.
Tension-type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder with a global prevalence of up to 1.68 million. According to one study, up to 78% of the population have experienced or will experience a tension-type headache in their lifetime (lifetime prevalence).
Tension-type headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days, are typically located on both sides of the head/neck, mild to moderate intensity, and have a pressing or tightening pain quality (non-pulsating). Additionally the pain does not become worse with routine activities (eg. walking up the stairs). While this headache is not associated with nausea or vomiting, it can be associated with photophobia or phonophobia.
It is possible for migraine and tension type headache symptoms to overlap or to have two concurrent headaches. If this is the case, you may be provided with a probable or mixed type headache diagnosis.
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.