Acupuncture to treat headaches?


The National Institute for Health and clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently recommended acupuncture as a treatment for headaches in people of all ages.

The guideline reveals that one person in 50 people experiences headaches as a result of overusing painkillers – which can reduce the medication’s effectiveness and cause further pain.

NICE recommends a number of treatment options one of which being the use of acupuncture, it also highlights how important it is to get a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They state that patients should consider having a course of around 10 sessions of acupuncture over 5 to 8 weeks to really see long lasting effects of reduction in headaches.

Physiotherapist Paul Battersby, a senior lecturer in acupuncture and director of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), welcomed the report.

‘These new recommendations confirm the AACP’s long held view – supported by positive evidence – that the use of acupuncture for tension type headaches achieves beneficial results,’ Mr Battersby said.

‘Half of patient responders report a 50 per cent improvement in their condition after a course of acupuncture’.

So what is the science behind acupuncture? It’s unclear how acupuncture works to ease pains and symptoms however it is believed that it stimulates muscles and releases substances called endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killers. It is also believed that acupuncture blocks neurotransmitters which send out pain signals to the brain.

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