Acupuncture May Have Minor Effect in Migraine Prevention

Compared with sham treatment, significant reduction in days with migraine at 13 to 16 weeks

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with migraine, acupuncture may have a minor clinical prophylactic effect, compared with sham acupuncture, according to a study published online Jan. 9 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Ying Li, M.D., Ph.D., from the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China, and colleagues investigated the efficacy of acupuncture at migraine-specific acupuncture points. Participants included 480 patients with migraine who were randomized to receive Shaoyang-specific acupuncture, Shaoyang-nonspecific acupuncture, Yangming-specific acupuncture, or sham acupuncture (control). Over a period of four weeks, participants in all groups received 20 treatments, which included electrical stimulation. The number of days with a migraine, experienced during weeks five to eight following randomization, was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included attack frequency, migraine intensity, and migraine-specific quality of life.

The investigators found that patients in all acupuncture groups reported fewer days with a migraine, compared with patients in the control group; however, there were no significant differences seen between the treatments. Patients in all acupuncture groups experienced a significant reduction in the number of days with migraine during weeks 13 to 16, compared with controls. For almost all secondary outcomes, there was a significant, but not clinically relevant, benefit in the acupuncture groups. No relevant differences were found between the three acupuncture groups.

"Acupuncture appeared to have a clinically minor prophylactic effect for migraine," the authors write. "However, the nonspecific effects of acupuncture may play a relevant role, and future research should provide more insight into the nature of these effects."

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