Skip to content

Advertisement

The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

The Journal of Headache and Pain Cover Image
Open Access

Acupuncture for tension-type headache: a multicentre, sham-controlled, patient-and observer-blinded, randomised trial

  • Heinz G. Endres1Email author,
  • Gabriele Böwing2,
  • Hans-Christoph Diener3,
  • Stefan Lange4,
  • Christoph Maier5,
  • Albrecht Molsberger2,
  • Michael Zenz6,
  • Andrew J. Vickers7 and
  • Martin Tegenthoff8
The Journal of Headache and Pain20078:416

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10194-007-0416-5

Received: 31 July 2007

Accepted: 25 September 2007

Published: 25 October 2007

Abstract

Acupuncture treatment is frequently sought for tension-type headache (TTH), but there is conflicting evidence as to its effectiveness. This randomised, controlled, multicentre, patient-and observer-blinded trial was carried out in 122 outpatient practices in Germany on 409 patients with TTH, defined as ≥0 headache days per month of which ≤1 included migraine symptoms. Interventions were verum acupuncture according to the practice of traditional Chinese medicine or sham acupuncture consisting of superficial needling at nonacupuncture points. Acupuncture was administered by physicians with specialist acupuncture training. Ten 30-min sessions were given over a six-week period, with additional sessions available for partial response. Response was defined as >50% reduction in headache days/month at six months and no use of excluded concomitant medication or other therapies. In the intent-to-treat analysis (all 409 patients), 33% of verum patients and 27% of sham controls (p=0.18) were classed as responders. Verum was superior to sham for most secondary endpoints, including headache days (1.8 fewer; 95% CI 0.6, 3.0; p=0.004) and the International Headache Society response criterion (66% vs. 55% response, risk difference 12%, 95% CI: 2%-21%; p=0.024).). The relative risk on the primary and secondary response criterion was very similar (0.8); the difference in statistical significance may be due to differences in event rate. TTH improves after acupuncture treatment. However, the degree to which treatment benefits depend on psychological compared to physiological effects and the degree to which any physiological effects depend on needle placement and insertion depth are unclear.

Keywords

Episodic tension-type headacheChronic tension-type headacheVerum acupunctureSham acupunctureRandomised controlled trial

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate. Please note that comments may be removed without notice if they are flagged by another user or do not comply with our community guidelines.

Advertisement