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Acupuncture As Headache Treatment

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

It is simple to laugh at a 2000-year-old treatment that seems more like magic than science. The viewpoint of skeptics from the 1970s to around 2005 was understandable, given that scientific evidence suggests that Acupuncture worked and why it was poor, as well as small clinical trials and poor quality. However, things have changed a lot since then.

There has been a lot of analysis on the effectiveness of Acupuncture in recent years, and we now have a firm foundation for genuinely understanding its benefits. Thanks to the development of good placebo controls (for example, a retractable "sham" device that looks like an acupuncture needle but does not penetrate the skin), we can now honestly evaluate its effectiveness.

Is Acupuncture Effective For Pain?

Large-scale clinical trials have consistently proven that Acupuncture provides better pain relief than conventional medical care. Although most research has shown that real and sham Acupuncture are equally effective, there has been little distinction between them. A 2012 meta-analysis of 18,000 patients from 23 high-quality randomized controlled trials on Acupuncture for pain conditions was combined to address this issue. Acupuncture was superior to sham in reducing back pain, headaches, and osteoarthritis, comparable to other widely used non-opiate pain medications.

Furthermore, when administered by an experienced specialist, Acupuncture is relatively safe. Brain function and other effects have been discovered in basic science studies of Acupuncture in humans and animals, including reductions in blood pressure. Beyond its discipline, biomedical research has resulted in many insights and innovations from acupuncture research.

Is Acupuncture Worth All the Hype?

Although there has been confusion about what Acupuncture is, why it works, and how it is practiced, we understand why some people may remain skeptical. The concept of acupuncture points and meridians, which is fundamental to the practice of Acupuncture, has been difficult to grasp because of ambiguities in the language used by acupuncture researchers and the need for clarity about their existence. Researchers need to address whether acupuncture points exist despite their continuing use of the term, contributing to doubts about Acupuncture. Despite this, Acupuncture as a non-pharmacological therapy for chronic pain has grown in importance due to serious concerns about opiate use and substance use disorders. A concerted effort is needed to address this issue.

An article about Acupuncture last year claimed it was an ineffective, dangerous, and expensive method for treating migraines. We wrote about how important it is to consider the existing evidence carefully and objectively, particularly compared to other therapies. Even though the responses overwhelmingly supported Acupuncture, it is still of concern that this practice is so frequently criticized. Acupuncture practitioners and researchers must address the shortcomings of Acupuncture's knowledge base and clarify its vocabulary.

Acupuncture, however, can be a solution to the enormous problem of chronic pain and opiate addiction plaguing our society. Because science has an incomplete understanding of its theoretical foundations, the solution should be even more exciting and worthy of attention. Patients deserve to have their questions and concerns addressed knowledgeably and respectfully, regardless of whether their physicians learn about alternative, nonpharmacologic treatments.

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