Acupuncture-like stimulation relieves chronic tension headache

May 2, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Pain

headache, acupuncture

CM NEWS – A group of scientists at the University of Aarhus of Denmark recently published a report of a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial on the effect of acupuncture-like electrical stimulation on chronic tension-type headache. They have demonstrated that such practice might provide a safe and potentially analgesic-sparing therapy to tension headache.

What is tension-type headache? A tension headache is the most common headache, and yet it’s not well understood. A tension headache generally produces a diffuse, usually mild to moderate pain over your head. Many people liken the feeling to having a tight band around their head.

A tension headache may also cause pain in the back of your neck at the base of your skull. A tension headache can last from 30 minutes to an entire week. You may experience these headaches occasionally, or nearly all the time. If your headaches occur 15 or more days a month for several months, they’re considered chronic. Unfortunately, chronic tension headaches sometimes persist for years.

A tension headache may cause you to experience a dull, achy pain or sensation of tightness in your forehead or at the sides and back of your head. In its most extensive form, the pain feels like a hooded cape that drapes down over the shoulders. The headache is usually described as mild to moderately intense. The severity of the pain varies from one person to another, and from one headache to another in the same person. Many people report that the pain starts first thing in the morning or late in the day when work stress or conflict at home is anticipated.

In the study, 36 patients (18 men, 18 women) with chronic tension-type headache in accordance with the criteria of International headache Society were investigated. The patients were randomly assigned into 2 groups: a treatment group and a placebo group. Pain duration, pain intensity on a 0 to 10 cm visual analog scale, number of headache attacks, and use of medication were recorded in a diary for 2 weeks before treatment (baseline), early stage of treatment (Treat-1; 2 wk), late stage of treatment (Treat-2; 4 wk), and after the end of treatment (Post-1, Post-2, Post-3 corresponding to 2, 4, and 6-wk follow-up).

The patients also provided an overall evaluation of the treatment effect at each stage. Patients were taught how to use either an acupuncture-like electrical stimulator or a sham stimulator (identical but incapable of delivering an electric current) and then instructed to use the device at home.

Six acupoints, bilateral EX-HN5, GB 20, LI 4, were selected to be stimulated 3 minutes for each point, twice a day.

The results showed that the pain duration was shortened at Treat-1 and pain intensity was decreased at Treat-1 and Treat-2 compared with baseline. The overall evaluation of the 2 treatments indicated improvements in both the treatment and the placebo groups, but with no significant difference between the groups (P>0.061).

Despite the apparent improvement in both the treatment and placebo groups, a decrease in analgesic use was only observed in the treatment group. There was also a significant positive correlation between the reported intensity of the stimulus-evoked sensation and the evaluation of the effect of either active or placebo treatments (P=0.039).

In conclusion, the researchers said that the use of acupuncture-like electrical stimulation was not associated with significant adverse effects. These results indicate that acupuncture-like electrical stimulation is a safe and potentially analgesic-sparing therapy that may be considered as an adjunctive treatment for patients with chronic tension-type headache although the clinical effect on pain seems to be marginal in the present set-up.

[Clin J Pain. 2007 May;23(4):316-322]

Acupuncture is more effective, cheaper alternative to pain killers for migraines

April 27, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Pain

American Chronicle – A recent study done in Italy and reported in the Journal of Traditional Chinese medicine compared the effect of acupuncture for migraine headaches versus conventional pain killer therapy.

One of the most interesting features of this study is that each patient was given a complete examination prior to the start of the test. This allowed the acupuncture therapy to be tailored to the individual causation of each patient’s condition.

There is no cookie cutter acupuncture treatment that is correct for everyone. When a study is done using the exact same points for the exact same duration, the results are going to be skewed and worthless.

What are the symptoms of migraines? Not all migraines are preceded by preliminarily symptoms, or auras, but if they are, they symptoms associated with an impending migraine usually involve some kind of vision disturbance such as:

* Bright or dark sport (sometimes resembling champagne bubbles)
* Tunnel vision
* Zigzag lines ( called fortification spectra)

The aura is followed by an intense crescendo of a headache, frequently behind one eye or on one side of the head. the pain may be pounding, throbbing, viselike, or stabbing; frequently it feels like the head is going to explode from pressure. Other symptoms that can accompany the headache of a migraine include.

* sensitivity to light
* nausea
* vomiting

The study showed that acupuncture for migraines was generally more effective than a series of pain killing drugs administered to the control group. What was more interesting is that the study looked at other factors beside the pain reduction. It also evaluated such things as the cost of the treatments and the time patients would have been unable to work under both treatments. It was in these areas that even more startling results were found.

The results indicated that acupuncture for migraine was not only a slightly more effective treatment for severe cases, but also resulted in considerable savings when viewed from a socio-economic point of view.

Many in the Western medical establishment give acupuncture a reluctant nod of acceptance as a treatment alternative for pain, but few have been made aware of how much more cost efficient and economically beneficial these treatments can be. There is certainly a need for more studies of this type that treat alternative medicine with a serious attitude and do not design the study to debunk what they already do not accept.

Migraines are one of the leading causes of lost time in the workplace in the United States. It is estimated that the cost of absenteeism from the estimated 157 million lost work days is over US$50b yearly when medical expenses are included. An additional US$4b is spent on pain killers for migraines and other types of headaches.

Acupressure eases Alzheimer’s agitation

April 10, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture

Reuters – The ancient practice of acupressure may be able to calm the aggressive behaviour that often results from dementia, a small study suggests.

One of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is agitation. It’s expressed in any number of ways. Some people with dementia yell at or physically attack other people, while others habitually undress themselves or wander.

Agitation not only puts dementia patients at risk of injury, but also makes their overall care even more challenging.

In the new pilot study, Taiwanese researchers looked at whether acupressure could offer a relatively simple way to address the problem.

Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure is based on the same principles as acupuncture, but employs touch rather than needles. According to traditional theory, stimulating particular points on the skin helps balance the flow of energy, or “chi,” throughout the body.

With acupressure, practitioners use their fingers to stimulate these “acupoints,” making it a form of massage, said study co-author Dr Li-Chan Lin of National Yang-Ming University in Taipei.

Dr Lin’s team tested the technique among 31 dementia patients at one nursing home. For four weeks, each patient received a 15-minute acupressure treatment twice a day, five days a week.

As a comparison therapy, the researchers spent another four weeks visiting the patients each day for a 15-minute talk. Twenty of the 31 patients were able to complete the study.

Overall, Dr Lin’s team found, acupressure eased patients’ agitation far better than the talking approach. What’s more, the therapy seemed to calm patients’ behaviour immediately and reduce their episodes of aggression over the four-week treatment period.

This suggests that acupressure could be used to ease patients’ symptoms and also to prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place, the researchers said.

A recent research review found evidence that various forms of touch therapy, such as gentle massage, can calm dementia patients’ anxiety and agitation.

The authors speculated that it’s the simple act of human contact that might explain the benefit. For people whose ability to communicate has been taken away by dementia, physical touch may be the easiest or only way for them to connect with others.

With its more than 2000-year history in Chinese medicine, acupressure is a widely accepted form of touch therapy in Taiwan, Dr Lin said.

Because of its similarity to massage, the researcher added, acupressure might also be readily accepted as a dementia therapy in Western cultures as well.

Massage, acupuncutre ease pain after cancer surgery

April 4, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Cancer

UCSF NewsMassage and acupuncture are effective in decreasing pain and depression following surgery in cancer patients, according to a UCSF study.

The findings of the randomized controlled clinical trial are reported in the March 2007 issue of the “Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.” Read more

Acupuncture soothes hot flashes

April 3, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Women's health

ASRM news – Menopausal women in a prospective, randomized placebo-controlled study found that acupuncture treatments reduced the severity of their nocturnal hot flashes and, as a result, they slept better.

This preliminary study by researchers at Stanford and Harvard enrolled 29 Northern California women between the ages of 45 and 65 who had had no menstrual periods during the six months prior to the study. Women with serious medical or psychological conditions or who were currently receiving treatment for hot flashes were excluded.

The women were randomized into an active treatment group and a control group. Both underwent a seven week course of sessions. The active treatment group received real acupuncture using points selected to target hot flashes as the primary symptom, and sleeplessness as a secondary symptom. The control group received sham acupuncture using placebo (non-penetrating) needles at acupuncture channel points selected at random. Trained acupuncturists worked with both active treatment and control groups. All needle insertions, real and placebo, were masked so that participants would not be able to tell whether they were receiving real or sham acupuncture.

Participants called or e-mailed daily to report the number and severity of their hot flashes. After the ninth and final study treatment, they were given one additional treatment and told whether they had been in the active treatment or sham acupuncture group. The women were asked to continue their daily hot flash reports for another month and were free to seek the treatment of their choice for their menopausal symptoms.

Nocturnal hot flash severity decreased significantly for the women receiving active acupuncture compared with the placebo group and both the active acupuncture and the placebo groups found that their nocturnal hot flashes became less frequent. In addition, researchers found a significant correlation between reductions in sleep disturbances and reductions in nocturnal hot flashes.

“Complementary medicine, especially acupuncture, has shown great potential to relieve many types of debilitating symptoms,” remarked Steven Ory, MD, ASRM President-Elect. “For patients suffering from menopausal symptoms, who are not good candidates for hormone therapy, acupuncture treatment could be an excellent option.”

[Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 86, No.3, September 2006. Huang et al, A randomized controlled pilot study of acupuncture for postmenopausal hot flashes: effect on nocturnal hot flashes and sleep quality]

Acupuncture controls chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain

March 3, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Men's health

CM NEWS – Researchers have shown in a recent study that acupuncture is effective in alleviating the severity of pain in patients with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

What is chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome? CP/CPPS occurs in men and is characterized by persistent discomfort or pain in the pelvic area that lasts several months, often longer. The discomfort is usually at the base of the penis and around the anus and lower back. Sometimes it spreads into the testes. Some patients have pain with ejaculation, and others may have pain or an urgency or hesitancy when they pass urine, as well as a poor urinary stream. The cause of CP/CPPS is not known. Physicians often try various therapies, including antibiotics to treat hidden or persistent infections in the prostate gland and {alpha}-blockers to relax the muscle tissue of the prostate and the outlet of the bladder. Thus far, few research studies have tested whether either of these treatments helps relieve symptoms of CP/CPPS.

The researchers of Columbia University and Cornell Medical College say that the etiology and treatment of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome remain poorly understood. Pain, lower urinary tract voiding symptoms and negative impact on quality of life are the most common complaints. Acupuncture, which has been widely used to treat painful and chronic conditions, may be a potential treatment to alleviate the constellation of symptoms experienced by men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

In the present study, 10 men diagnosed with category IIIA or IIIB chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome for over 6 months, refractory to at least 1 conventional therapy (antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, alpha-1 blockers). The median age of the subjects was 36 years (range 29-63).

Standardized full body and auricular acupuncture treatment was given twice weekly for 6 weeks. The results show that subjects reported less pain after 3 and 6 weeks of treatment and remained so after an additional 6 weeks of follow-up. There weren’t any adverse events reported.

The researchers thus conclude that these preliminary findings suggest the potential therapeutic role of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

[Chinese Medicine 2007, 2:1 doi:10.1186/1749-8546-2-1]

Acupuncture helps control pain during delivery, study finds

February 14, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Pain

acupuncture needle, pain, deliveryCM NEWSAcupuncture is able to help first time moms to better endure pain and labour duration during delivery without side effects, according to a recently published study.

In this randomized controlled trial completed in the Department of Obstetrics and , Vali Asr Research Centre for Reproductive Health, Imam Medical Complex, Tehran, Iran, 144 healthy nulliparous women in active phase were randomised into the study and control group, receiving real and minimal acupuncture, respectively. Visual analogue scale was used to assess pain. Objectives were to evaluate acupuncture effect on pain and labour duration and patients’ willingness to receive acupuncture for subsequent pregnancies.

The aim of the trial is to assess the effects of acupuncture on nulliparous women during labour with respect to pain, labour duration and maternal acceptability.

The results showed that visual analogue scale pain score in the study group was lower after two hours. Active phase duration and the oxytocin units administered were lower in the study group. Study group patients had greater willingness to receive acupuncture again. No adverse effects were detected.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture could reduce pain experience, active phase duration and oxytocin units. Patients were satisfied and no adverse effects were noted.

[Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Feb;47(1):26-30 ]

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