Evidence-based Acupuncture for Headache and Migraine

Migraines/headaches are difficult to treat, and current treatment options have many unwanted side effects, such as exacerbating headache pain in those with chronic migraine. Therefore, while the primary treatment for migraines is drug therapy, acupuncture is gaining increasing attention as a viable addition to the treatment management of migraine patients due to its measurable effects on both the duration and frequency of migraine attacks. 

Many studies suggest that acupuncture is a safe, helpful and available alternative therapy that may be beneficial to certain migraine patients. Based on a recent systematic review of 22 clinical trials involving 4985 people, there is evidence that acupuncture reduces the frequency of headache in individuals with migraine, and that the effect may be similar to that observed with preventive medications. The frequency of headache is dropped by 50% or more in up to 59% of individuals receiving acupuncture and this effect can persist for more than 6 months.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) includes acupuncture as a treatment to be considered to prevent chronic tension-type headache and migraine. However, there is no requirement for health professionals to prescribe acupuncture.

  • For chronic tension‑type headache, it says that a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture over 5–8 weeks can be considered.
  • For migraine, it says that a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture over 5–8 weeks can be considered if both migraine preventive treatments topiramate and propranolol are unsuitable or ineffective (these guidelines were published in 2015, before the availability of a range of newer migraine preventive treatments). It said that this would also depend on the patient’s choice of treatment, other conditions they may have, and risk of adverse effects to them from the treatment.


How do we treat Migraine or Headache at B&Q Acupuncture?

We believe if you suffer from chronic headaches, something in your body is out of balance. To get to the root of the problem, we examine the whole person. And we often spend a lot of time talking about the patient’s health and also take into account your environmental and social living environment, work, lifestyle and diet, to understand what’s really going on. 

The problem might be something external, such as a virus or a poor diet. Or it might be internal, such as a hormone imbalance or stress. 

Once we identify the cause of the problem, we can correct it with acupuncture along with Chinese medicine, cupping or scraping. We will also give you personalised advice and treatment plan based on Chinese medicine diagnosis.

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