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Wednesday
Dec282011

Acupuncture and Migraines

Acupuncture is a modality that is becoming increasingly more popular in the field of manual medicine. I often find numerous patients asking me about the effectiveness of acupuncture. What does it do? What does it help? Would it work for me?

I find these questions to be among the most difficult questions to answer. For one it is difficult for health care practitioners to give catch all answers to general questions, particularly if they have not been thoroughly assessed by the clinician. It is important to begin any trial of therapy with a thorough assessment of which structures are involved; this is the first place that I always start. Secondly patient preference can also be an important factor when discussing different therapies that could be beneficial. If someone is “scarred” of needles or can’t tolerate the idea of needles going into their body, acupuncture is probably not their best course of action. Thirdly it is always important to look at the evidence. Is there evidence that acupuncture can be beneficial for the problem that the clinician has diagnosed you with? If so then acupuncture could be beneficial for you.

I recently read an interesting review article that addressed acupuncture prevention and migraine headaches (Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis (Review) Copyright © 2009 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd..) Migraine patients are individuals that suffer from recurrent severe episodes of often one-sided headaches. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that acupuncture may have an effect in terms of decreasing frequency and severity of migraine type headaches. The review article took into consideration 22 trials, which were based on the prophylaxis (prevention of symptoms) of migraines by providing acupuncture. Six trials investigated the addition of acupuncture to basic care of headaches (which usually involved treatment of acute episodes) and found that those individuals had fewer headaches. Fourteen trials involved inserting the needles at incorrect spots (based on traditional Chinese acupuncture) these people experienced a reduction in frequency of headaches. In the four trials in which acupuncture was compared to a proven prophylactic drug treatment, patients receiving acupuncture tended to report more improvement and fewer side effects. Collectively, the studies suggest that migraine patient’s benefit from acupuncture, although the correct placement of needles seems to be less relevant than is usually thought by acupuncturists.

The findings of this study speak well to the acupuncture training that I received from the Contemporary Medical Acupuncture program at McMaster University where they view the neurological system as the means for benefits of acupuncture, opposed to the traditional points as yielding results for treatments as is believed by Traditional Chinese Acupuncturists. With the increasing popularity of Acupuncture it is important that you consult a health care professional when considering undergoing a course of conservative care. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss if acupuncture could be beneficial to you don’t hesitate to contact me, Yours in Good Health,

Dr. Pierre – D. Plante
Chiropractor
Sports Science Residency Program
Contemporary Medical Acupuncture
Active Release Technique Provider
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Certified Kinesiotape Practitioner