Acupuncture for Migraine: A Systematic Review



Acupuncture for Migraine: A Systematic Review






Research Type

Systematic Review



Background: Migraine is a highly prevalent and often severely disabling disorder. Migraine patients often employ therapies such as acupuncture. To date a systematic review of acupuncture for migraine headache alone has not been published. Given that migraine has a pathophysiology that is distinct from other headaches, it is appropriate and timely that the studies of acupuncture for the treatment of migraine be systematically reviewed. Objectives: To determine whether acupuncture is more effective than no treatment for migraine, more effective than 'sham' or placebo acupuncture for migraine, or as effective as other interventions used to treat and prevent migraine. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials of needle acupuncture that breaks the skin for migraine headache. Data collection: The authors used a standardised collection form to abstract data independently. Information on acupuncture protocol, STRICTA criteria, methodological quality (Jadad, IVS) and treatment outcomes were collected. Results: Twenty-five studies with a total of 3004 patients (median = 62; range = 30-794) met the inclusion criteria. Three trials compared acupuncture to waiting list. Eleven trials compared acupuncture to sham acupuncture studies. The results were heterogeneous. Five studies found no significant effects over the sham procedure. Four studies reported a trend in favour of acupuncture. The remaining two small studies reported results in which the acupuncture group did significantly better than those in the sham group. Thirteen studies compared acupuncture to various pharmacotherapies and all found acupuncture to be at least as effective as drug treatment. Conclusion: The current evidence suggests that acupuncture is significantly superior to waiting list, at least as good as sham acupuncture, and of comparable efficiency to several proven drug therapies for the treatment and prevention of migraine.

Number of Participants

25 RCTs

has health condition studied

Headache Disorders

has study population number


has duration


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