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.
The review included 22 trials which combined to 4985 participants. A third of the articles reviewed were published between 1989-2002 while fifteen were published between 2004-2015. The Cochrane Review used the GRADE approach to assess the quality and therefore how close the true effect would be compared to the estimate of effect for each of the trials.
Acupuncture vs Routine Care
The first section compared acupuncture with routine care or acute treatment only (eg. treatment with rizatriptan). Results indicated headache frequency was at least halved in 41% of acupuncture participants after treatment compared to 17% receiving no acupuncture.
Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture
The second section compared acupuncture with sham interventions. Results indicated a statistically significant decrease in headache frequency after treatment and at follow-up for patients receiving acupuncture treatment. Further analysis was performed that revealed the effects of acupuncture over sham acupuncture were consistently larger in trials that included a treatment protocol of 16 or more sessions compared to trials under 12 sessions.
Acupuncture vs Prophylactic Drug Treatment
The final section of the review compared acupuncture with prophylactic drug treatment. At follow-up of 3 months, there was a statistically significant difference favouring acupuncture: 57% of acupuncture participants’ headache frequency was at least halved, compared to 46% of prophylactic drug participants’ headache frequency that was at least halved. After 6 months headache frequency at least halved in 59% of acupuncture participants and 54% of participants taking the prophylactic drugs. Taking into account weaknesses of the trials, the Cochrane Review determined the evidence as moderate quality and that acupuncture is “non-inferior to prophylactic drug treatment”.
The authors of the Cochrane Review concluded a course of acupuncture may be a beneficial option for individuals who suffer from migraine headaches.
Don't forget to check out this similar article: acupuncture and tension-type headaches!
Dr. McCann received her medical acupuncture training at McMaster University and is trained to assess and diagnose migraine headaches and other headaches, determine effective treatment and refer to other health professionals when necessary.
Restore and maintain optimum physical function! 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, Vertosick EA., Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001218. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub3
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.