Welcome to my blog, discover acupuncture with Dr Maggie Ju

Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

How to get rid of tension headaches?

A tension headache is the most common type of primary headache accounting for about 90% of all headaches. It tends to start from the back of the head and moves forward to the top of the head. The exact causes are not clear. It is often linked to sensitivity to pain, stress and tension. It can be triggered by stress, anxiety, fatigue; and/or holding your head at one position for a long time, such as working on computer all day. The pain is bilateral and the head is like being squeezed or stabbed and the eyes are strained; The pain could be dull and feels like a band surrounding your head. Pain may involve the back part of the head or neck. A tension headache can be episodic lasting for days or become chronic. It can be debilitating, impacting our quality of life, lifestyle, mood and daily activities.

Do you know acupuncture can release tension headache effectively? Here is some research evidence for it.
More recently Granato et al analysed the current data about the effectiveness of acupuncture on tension-type headache. There were 11 trials involved in 2317 patients. Two trials compared acupuncture wit routine care only or treatment of acute headache only with a 3 month follow-up. Both studies measured responder rate, headache frequency, pain intensity and pain killer intake. They suggested that effect of acupuncture was better controls. There were five trials compared effect of acupuncture with that of sham acupuncture. Four trials had 6 month follow-up and one trial had 12 months follow-up. Numbers of headache days were significantly decreased in acupuncture group. Headache intensity and frequency of taking pain killers was significantly reduced in acupuncture group compared with sham acupuncture group. Three of the four trials compared the effect of acupuncture with physiotherapy, relaxation. Their conclusion is that there was short term benefit by adding acupuncture to routine care and acupuncture could be a nonpharmacological tool for treating patients with tension-type headache.

Schieapparelli P et al also support the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating primary headache particular tension-type headache and migraine. They suggested that acupuncture is an effective and valuable option for patients suffering from frequent tension-type headache and migraine; also acupuncture is cost-effective treatment.

Hao XA et al analysed five high quality trials. The results suggested that needle retention with 30 minutes was better than no needle retention; twice a week treatment was better than once a week treatment.

A research paper reviewed the effects of acupuncture for headaches. In this review, at least eight weeks of observation period is required, and twelve trials are included. There were 2349 participants. In two large high-quality trials with 1265 and 207 participants, acupuncture was compared with routine care or treatment of acute headaches. Results have shown that the proportion of participants experiencing at least 50% reduction of headache frequency was much higher in groups receiving acupuncture than in control groups. In seven good quality trials acupuncture group had high reduction of headache frequency compared with sham acupuncture. Withdrawals were low: 1 of 420 participants receiving acupuncture dropped out due to adverse effects.The conclusion from the data suggested that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches.

References
Granato A et al Neuroepidemiology (2010) 35:160-2
Schiapparelli P et al Neurol Sci (2011) 32 Suppl 1:S15-8
Hao XA et al J Alterm Complement Med (2012)

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