A pilot cohort study carried out on US soldiers has found a standardised acupuncture treatment to be beneficial for chronic headache. Twenty-six subjects suffering from chronic daily headache (mostly migraine) were treated using a standardised set of acupuncture points (manual stimulation at Hegu L.I.-4 and Waiguan SJ-5, with 1-3 Hz electrostimulation at Taichong LIV-3 and Zulinqi GB-41) over twelve weeks (two 30-minute sessions a week for four weeks, followed by once a week for four weeks). The results showed a reduction in the frequency and intensity of headaches at the end of the treatment period, which persisted during a 12 week follow-up. Medication use, depression and quality of life scores also improved. Pain scores continued to decline for eight weeks following the end of the acupuncture intervention, and although beginning to rise again at 12 weeks never reached baseline levels. The authors contrast this with medication trials, where headaches return after cessation of treatment, and hypothesise that monthly maintenance acupuncture treatments might prevent this rise. (The effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic daily headache: an outcomes study. Mil Med. 2009 Dec;174(12):1276-81).

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