22. February 2018 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Headache, Migraine

Acupuncture may help restore impaired homeostasis of the trigeminovascular pain pathway in migraines. In a collaboration between US and Chinese researchers, 100 migraine without aura (MwoA) patients and 46 matched healthy controls (HCs) were recruited. Patients were randomised to four weeks of verum acupuncture, sham acupuncture or a waiting list. HCs had resting state fMRI scans at baseline, while patients underwent scans before and after treatment. Patients received 20 acupuncture sessions over a period of four weeks, using one of three acupuncture protocols (VA1 – Yanglingquan GB-34, Qiuxu GB-40 and Waiguan SJ-5; VA2 – Xiyangguan GB-33, Diwuhui GB-42 and Sanyangluo SJ-8; VA3 – Zusanli ST-36, Chongyang ST-42 and Pianli L.I.-16). Sham acupuncture consisted of needling at non-acupoints. Compared with HCs, MwoA patients showed increased spontaneous activity at rest in several brain regions involved in pain information processing (posterior insula and putamen/caudate). Reduced spontaneous activity at rest was also seen in MwoA patients in brainstem regions connected with input from the trigeminovascular nociceptive pathway (trigeminocervical complex) and output via the descending pain modulatory system (rostral ventromedial medulla). This decreased activity was observed to have normalised after verum (but not sham) acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture modulates the abnormal brainstem activity in migraine without aura patients. Neuroimage Clin. 2017 May 22;15:367-375.

Auricular acupuncture (AA) may be useful in the treatment of paediatric migraines in the emergency department (ED), according to preliminary research from the USA. In a prospective cohort study, 19 paediatric patients presenting with active migraines received a single AA treatment using semi-permanent needles inserted at a maximum of three acupoints located according to electrical resistance or pressure along two auricular migraine lines. Fifteen minutes after the treatment all subjects reported improvement or resolution of migraine, with a clinically and statistically significant mean reduction in pain of seven points on a ten point scale.
Auricular Acupuncture for the Treatment of Pediatric Migraines in the Emergency Department. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2016 May 2. [Epub ahead of print].

The results of a prospective interventional study carried out by American researchers suggests that acupuncture has persistent beneficial effects on both the frequency and intensity of migraines. Fifty-nine individuals with a diagnosis of migraine received acupuncture using a standardised set of points twice a week for four weeks, followed by treatment once a week for an additional four weeks. When pre- and post-intervention measurements were compared, migraine frequency and pain intensity were found to have decreased significantly after acupuncture. Migraine frequency and pain intensity had not returned to pre-intervention baseline levels at follow-up, 12 weeks after the last acupuncture session. The impact of migraine on patients’ quality of life also showed statistically significant improvement. (Standardized set-point acupuncture for migraines. Altern Ther Health Med. 2013 Nov-Dec;19(6):32-7).