For all those people suffering from tension-headaches, acupuncture may be the right treatment for them. A study reported in the journal BMJ said that acupuncture can reduce the incidence of these headaches by half.In a randomized controlled trial - the gold standard of clinical trials - researchers in Germany divided 270 patients with a similar severity of tension headache into three groups.
Over an eight week period one set were treated with traditional acupuncture, one with minimal acupuncture (needles inserted only superficially into the skin, at non-acupuncture points), and one group had neither treatment ('control' group).
Those receiving traditional acupuncture care saw their headache rates drop by almost half - suffering 7 days less headaches over the four weeks following the treatment. Those receiving minimal acupuncture had 6.6 less days of headaches. While the control group experienced 1.5 less days of headaches - a drop of just a tenth.
Improvements to headache rates continued for months after the acupuncture treatment, though they began to rise slightly as time went on. Of the 195 patients in the acupuncture groups, 37 reported some side effects - the most common being dizziness, other headaches and bruising.
Such a small difference in results between traditional and minimal acupuncture treatments seems to indicate that the location of acupuncture points and other aspects of traditional Chinese acupuncture do not make a major difference for tension headache, say the authors.
Acupuncture treatments are sometimes associated with strong placebo effects, caution the authors. But these findings show that acupuncture produces just as good improvements for tension headache sufferers as treatments already accepted, they conclude.
Medindia on Acupuncture: Further information
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is one of the traditional healing techniques acknowledged by WHO as a form of prevalent alternative treatment to clinical conditions. Acupuncture means to puncture with a needle. In a broad sense the process includes traditional body puncturing with needles, as well as some variants like moxibustion, electric acupuncture or electro-puncture, laser acupuncture etc.
Tension-headaches: People describe tension headaches as dull ache on both sides of the head, sometimes accompanied by a tight feeling in the head and neck muscles. Usually they begin slowly and gradually during mid-day. Non-recurrent such headaches may be dealt with the over-the-counter painkillers, but recurrence in a severe form needs intervention from the physicians.