Saturday, August 15, 2009

Migraine Relief Through Acupuncture

If you look up acupuncture you’ll find that it claims to help a wide variety of health issues from pain, anorexia, asthma and anxiety, to sprains, stroke, depression and headaches.

Recently, Dr. Enrico Facco of the University of Padua decided to do a new study with his colleagues to determine whether acupuncture could help patients whose migraines had not been helped by medication.

For this study, Dr. Facco found 160 migraine sufferers and assigned them to four different groups. One group received traditional acupuncture twice a week.

Another group received a sham acupuncture treatment that is usually used in studies. The third group was given the sham acupuncture as well, though the blunted needles actually touched the traditional acupuncture points. The last group was not given acupuncture and served as the control group. All groups were given migraine medication for migraine attacks.

The reason for the four groups was due to many believing that using blunted needles that do not pierce the skin can be as useful as traditional acupuncture that does pierce the skin, as long as the correct acupuncture points are used. Because of the different groups, the study found this to be untrue. Symptoms were improved in 32 patients and over a six month period only the group receiving traditional acupuncture with needles that pierce the skin showed lasting improvement.

Acupuncture has been around for over 2,000 years and although researchers aren’t completely clear on how it helps migraines, they think it may be due to the release of chemicals in the nervous system or altering signals in the nerve cells. Acupuncture is thought to help many ailments due to the stimulating energy pathways in the body.

However, it really works, and even if it does, is a matter of debate. I will state that, from my own reading the past couple of years, acupuncture seems to be one of the few alternative medicine modalities (there's a five dollar word) that mainstream medicine hasn't affirmatively slapped a "quackery" label on. Also, a few studies have indicated that acupuncture may provide a better-than-placebo level of benefit.

Personal note: I plan to try acupuncture soon due to ongoing to neck and back issues. These issues have been treated fairly well with chiropractic (I was once a complete non-believer in chiropractic, but after having obtained relief myself from neck adjustments---though I am in no way exhorting anyone else to try this type of therapy--I was forced to re-evaluate my own biases). Nonetheless, I figure its worth a shot to see how acupuncture does for me.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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