Painkillers make headaches worse, stick with acupuncture!

Painkillers often will make the headaches worse, a general practitioner from UK warns in the official advise from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

“Instead of taking these over-the-counter drugs to combat symptoms when they flare up, sufferers should try treatments that help prevent headaches in the first place – including acupuncture”

(Source: The Telegraph)

Lear more about how acupuncture helps headaches.


Migraine: Acupuncture vs Topiramate

Acupuncture is more effective in prevention of chronic migraine headaches and is 10 times safer compared to topiramate treatment. These are the findings of a study published in the current issue of Cephalalgia, a journal for International Headache Society. The researchers compared acupuncture with topiramate. They call for acupuncture to be considered a treatment option for chronic migraine patients, even for those patients with medication overuse.

Studies have shown that addressing tension in the neck, which often accompanies migraines and headaches can be very helpful reducing the severity and frequency of the headaches. I can see in my practice that combining acupuncture with gentle mobilisation of the neck muscles is the most effective way to manage acute migraine and to prevent migraines. It will be interesting to see more studies looking into the combination of these treatments in the future.


TMJ Acupuncture

Eating a chocolate can be painful experience when you suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder(TMD or TMJD). But it is only one of numerous symptoms TMJD can cause. Symptoms may include headaches or migraines, tooth pain, and others.

Journal of Orofacial Pain has published a systematic review on acupuncture for treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders.

The review included 19 randomized controlled trials. The results concluded that acupuncture was more effective for TMD symptoms than physical therapy. Acupuncture was also more effective than indomethacin plus vitamin B1 therapy, and a wait-list control. Acupuncture was safe with no serious adverse events reported by the studies.

Three of the studies, included in the review, compared acupuncture to a placebo. Researchers concluded acupuncture had a therapeutic effect beyond placebo.

For some very helpful and detailed explanation of temporomandibular joint visit Dr Paul Smedley’s website.

Image courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography
Ref: J Orofac Pain. 2010 Spring;24(2):152-62.

Acupuncture for headaches and migraines superior to medication

acupuncture-headache-782007Acupuncture is superior medication therapy for headaches. Acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture (fake acupuncture or placebo) in reducing headache intensity and frequency. More people respond to acupuncture than to medication. These are the conclusions of this massive systematic review, which included 31 studies on acupuncture for chronic headache, including migraine and tension-type headache. This high quality study was conducted by Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, USA and published in the current issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia.


Bad posture, Blood Pressure and Migraine headache connection?

Researchers at University of Leeds, UK, have found a direct neural connection between neck muscles and a part of the brain stem (called the nucleus tractus solitarius), which plays a crucial role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure. (The Journal of Neuroscience)

This finding could explain why blood pressure and heart rate sometimes change when the neck muscles are injured – through whiplash, for example. Similarly, it is possible that hours spent hunched over a computer may raise blood pressure.

Tense neck muscles also can be a cause of headaches and migraines.

If your neck muscles are tense, I urge you to address this:

1. Stretch regularly, observe your posture
2. Get your partner to massage your shoulders frequently
3. Acupuncture (has long term effect relaxing neck muscles)
4. Gentle manipulation (to correct the posture and to prevent the muscles tensing up)

Tension headaches: a natural cure = acupuncture + exercise + relaxation

A combination of physical exercise, relaxation training, and acupuncture provide long-lasting improvements for patients with chronic tension-type headaches. This is the conclusion of Swedish study published in the current issue of the journal Cephalalgia.

tension headachesFrequent use of pain medications can lead to chronic headaches. This is why it is important that analgesics are discontinued as a first step in treating tension headaches.

My comment:
I’ve treated lots of patients suffering from headaches over the years and have combined acupuncture, gentle manual therapy and sometimes exercise with most of the patients. It is comforting to know that what I find most effective in practice is being confirmed by the research.

More on acupuncture and headaches:
Acupuncture and migraines: a new conclusive study
Acupuncture pain relief
Acupuncture for headaches and neck pain
Laser acupuncture can make a significant difference for tension headache
Acupuncture Relieves Chronic Headache

Acupuncture And Migraine: A new conclusive study from UK

According to a new study published in British Medical Journal, Acupuncture helps to relieve the chronic headaches, migraine in particular. Such are the conclusions of a clinical study, carried out in England and in Wales.

The study aimed at evaluating if acupuncture could be effective, in the case of the headaches, to be integrated into the free care of the system of public health in England.

The researchers followed 401 patients suffering from chronic headaches, mainly of migraines for 12 months.
These patients had been divided in two groups: one received up to 12 treatments of acupuncture for three months, while the others were treated by a usual medication and were used as a reference group.

Researches measured the gravity of the headaches among patients after 3 and 12 months. They also evaluated, the need to take drugs or to consult a doctor.

After 12 months, the results showed that the headaches had decreased twice more in the group treated by acupuncture that in the group which received a medication (reduction of 34% against 16%).

The patients, who belonged to the group treated by acupuncture, counted on average 22 days fewer headaches per year. Acupuncture group had used less drugs, made less medical visits and taken less sick leave.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture produces beneficial and persistent effects among patients suffering from chronic headaches, especially from migraines.

My comment:

In my experience acupuncture combined with gentle mobilisation of neck muscles is the most effective way to treat migraines. Sometimes the researchers are so busy determining what exactly worked and how, that they stop seeing the bigger picture. And in the case of migraine, a combination of therapies is significantly more effective than either therapy on its own. It is important to relax the neck muscles and acupuncture alone is not as effective. There was another study on migraines, where they injected botox into acupuncture points to relax the neck muscles and to stimulate the acupuncture points. The result was a long term relief. However, there are risks involved in using botox, not to mention it is very expensive.

More about acupuncture, neck pain and headache here

Fibromyalgia :: Acupuncture effectively relieves pain, anxiety and tiredness

Fibromyalgia, is characterized by chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, joint stiffness and sleep disturbance.

No cure is known and available treatments are only partially effective.

According to a research team led by Dr. David Martin, an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia patients who received acupuncture reported improvement in fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms.

Acupuncture was also well tolerated with minimal side effects, the researchers said in the June issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The study involved 50 fibromyalgia patients enrolled in a randomized, controlled trial to determine if acupuncture improved their symptoms. Twenty-five in the acupuncture group and 25 in the control group.

In the acupuncture group, total fibromyalgia symptoms were significantly improved compared with the control group during the study period.

Fatigue and anxiety were the most significantly improved symptoms during the follow-up period.

“We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety,” the researchers concluded.