Acupuncture offers long lasting relief to migraines

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September 18, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized

CM NEWS – Acupuncture has been proved to provide effective and persistent relief of migraine headaches, according to a new study in Italy.

To check the effectiveness of a true acupuncture treatment according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in migraine without aura, researchers of the Department of Medico-Surgical Specialities of University of Padua in Italy compared true acunpuncture to a standard mock acupuncture protocol, an accurate mock acupuncture healing ritual, and untreated controls.

“Migraine prevalence is high and affects a relevant rate of adults in the productive phase of their life,” says the study to be published in the journal Headache.

“Acupuncture has been increasingly advocated and used in Western countries for migraine treatment, but the evidence of its effectiveness still remains weak. A large variability of treatments is present in published studies and no acupoint selection according to TCM has been investigated so far; therefore, the low level of evidence of acupuncture effectiveness might partly depend on inappropriate treatment.”

In the study, the patients were divided into the following 4 groups:
(1) group TA, treated with true acupuncture (according to TCM) plus Rizatriptan; (N=32)
(2) group RMA, treated with ritualized mock acupuncture plus Rizatriptan; (N=30)
(3) group SMA, treated with standard mock acupuncture plus Rizatriptan; (N=31)
(4) group R, without prophylactic treatment with relief therapy only (Rizatriptan); (N=39)

What is Rizatriptan? Rizatriptan is used to treat the symptoms of migraine headaches (severe, throbbing headaches that sometimes are accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to sound and light). Rizatriptan is in a class of medications called selective serotonin receptor agonists. It works by narrowing blood vessels in the brain, stopping pain signals from being sent to the brain, and stopping the release of certain natural substances that cause pain, nausea, and other symptoms of migraine. Rizatriptan does not prevent migraine attacks.

The MIDAS Questionnaire was administered before treatment, at 3 and 6 months from the beginning of treatment, and the MIDAS Index (MI) was calculated. Rizatriptan intake was also checked in all groups of patients at all three time intervals. All patients had moderate to severe with no significant intergroup differences before treatment.

What is MIDAS Questionnaire? MIDAS is a questionnaire that measures headache-related disability simply and easily by counting the number of days of lost and limited activity due to migraine. Activities are classed into three areas:

  • Paid work and education (school / college)
  • Household work (unpaid work such as housework, shopping and caring for children and others)
  • Family, social and leisure activities

Migraine sufferers count the number of days on which they missed out on these activities because of their migraine in the previous 3 months. Also, they count the number of days where their productivity was at most half as normal in paid and household work. The overall MIDAS score is reached by summing the answers to these five questions, and is scored in the number of days.

Group TA and RMA were evaluated according to TCM as well; then, the former was submitted to true acupuncture and the latter to mock acupuncture treatment resembling the same as TA. The statistical analysis was conducted with factorial ANOVA and multiple tests with a Bonferroni adjustment.

Results show that the migraines improved in all patients after 3 months and 6 months of treatment. However, those treated with true acupuncture plus Rizatriptan showed a significant improvement at both 3-month and 6-month treatments than with Rizatriptan only.

The researchers thus conclude that true acupuncture was the only treatment able to provide a steady outcome improvement in comparison to the use of only Rizatriptan, while Rizatriptan plus mock acunpuncture showed a transient placebo effect after 3 months into treatment.

[Headache. 2007 Sep 14]