Long term effects of acupuncture for Migraine.

A recent trial was carried out to find out if acupuncture may be able to help prevent migraine. The trial was carried out to investigate the long-term effects of true acupuncture compared with either sham acupuncture or being placed in a waiting-list control group for migraine prophylaxis (treatment given or action taken to prevent disease).

The trial was conducted from October 2012 to September 2014 in outpatient settings at 3 clinical sites in China.  249 participants aged between 18 to 65 who suffered from migraine without aura (sensory disturbances) and whose migraine occurred between 2 and 8 times a month took part in the trial.

The trial was a 24-week randomized clinical trial, with 4 weeks of treatment and 20 weeks of follow-up. Participants were randomly assigned to true acupuncture, sham acupuncture or a waiting list control group.

Participants in the true acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups received treatment 5 days per week for 4 weeks for a total of 20 sessions. Participants in the waiting-list group did not receive acupuncture but were informed that 20 sessions of acupuncture would be provided free of charge at the end of the trial.

Participants were asked to use diaries to record migraine attacks.

The main outcome was the change in the frequency of migraine attacks. Secondary outcomes were the length of days migraine occurred, the severity of the headache and the amount of medication taken.

The change in frequency of migraine attacks differed significantly among the 3 groups at 16 weeks after randomization. The frequency of attacks decreased in the true acupuncture group. However the sham acupuncture and the waiting list group, were not significantly different.

The trial shows that among patients with migraine without aura, true acupuncture may be associated with long-term reduction in migraine recurrence compared with sham acupuncture or assigned to a waiting list.

The full report can be read at  http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2603492

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