Acupuncture provides headache relief

headacheA study published in the December issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia indicated that acupuncture is superior to placebo and medication in treating chronic headaches.

The study reviewed 25 randomized controlled trials in adults that lasted more than four weeks. In seven trials comparing acupuncture with medication, researchers found that 62 percent of 479 patients had significant response to acupuncture, and only 45 percent to medicine.

Fourteen of the studies (with a total of 961 patients) compared acupuncture directly to placebo, or sham acupuncture. 53 percent of people treated with real acupuncture improved, compared to 45 percent of those receiving the placebo treatment.

Acupuncture has far fewer side effects and risks than medication used to treat headaches, and can also produce feelings of relaxation and well-being.

Unfortunately, acupuncture has only been affordable for a relatively small percentage of the population. But a new movement called “community acupuncture” is changing that. In community acupuncture (CA) clinics, several patients are treated simultaneously, often in comfortable reclining chairs arranged in a circle. Points below the elbows and knees and on the head are emphasized, so there is no need for the patient to disrobe.

Because of the higher volume of patients that can be treated in this manner, treatments are offered at a much lower rate - often on a sliding scale between $15-40, or about the same cost as an insurance co-pay.

The community acupuncture model, which was developed by acupuncturist Lisa Rohleder and pioneered in her clinic Working Class Acupuncture in Portland, OR is rapidly expanding across the country. Try Googling “community acupuncture” along with the name of your town to see if there’s a clinic where you live.

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