One of the most common applications of acupuncture therapy is to treat chronic pain, especially pain caused by migraines and headaches. Migraines are generally difficult to treat with pharmacotherapies causing unwanted side effects. A 2020 study, utilizing 20 acupuncture treatments given every other day, showed consistent results with an investigation led by Harvard Medical School and Georgetown University which concluded that acupuncture reduces frequency, duration, and intensity of migraine attacks. Researchers also indicate that patients reported less secondary anxiety and depression. In another Harvard Medical School led study, researchers found that acupuncture, when performed three times a week, reduced migraine attack frequency.
In more studies:
Acupuncture was associated with a moderate reduction of headache frequency over no acupuncture after treatment
Acupuncture was associated with a statistically significant frequency reduction over sham acupuncture
Acupuncture reduced migraine frequency significantly more than drug prophylaxis after treatment
Trial participants receiving acupuncture were less likely to report or drop out due to adverse effects compared to prophylactic drugs
Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Vertosick EA, Vickers A, and 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.
Xu, Shabei, Lingling Yu, Xiang Luo, Minghuan Wang, Guohua Chen, Qing Zhang, Wenhua Liu et al. "Manual acupuncture versus sham acupuncture and usual care for prophylaxis of episodic migraine without aura: multicentre, randomised clinical trial." bmj 368 (2020).
Urits, Ivan, Megha Patel, Mary Elizabeth Putz, Nikolas R. Monteferrante, Diep Nguyen, Daniel An, Elyse M. Cornett, Jamal Hasoon, Alan D. Kaye, and Omar Viswanath. "Acupuncture and Its Role in the Treatment of Migraine Headaches." Neurology and Therapy (2020): 1-20. Author Affiliations:
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center— Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.
Department of Anesthesiology, University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona.
Department of Anesthesiology, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, Nebraska.
Department of Anesthesiology, Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, Shreveport, Louisiana.
Valley Pain Consultants–Envision Physician Services, Phoenix, Arizona.
Yang, X.J., Liu, L., Xu, Z.L., Zhang, Y.J., Liu, D.P., Fishers, M., Zhang, L., Sun, J.B., Liu, P., Zeng, X. and Wang, L.P., 2020. Baseline Brain Gray Matter Volume as a Predictor of Acupuncture Outcome in Treating Migraine. Frontiers in Neurology, 11, p.111.