Acupuncture and Tension Headaches

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
Thank you to 2010 MS-PREP alumna, Nancy Mitchell, for sending along a recent update to the Cochrane Library and the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews addressing acupuncture and tension-type headaches. In a previous Cochrane Review (2001), acupuncture was found to be inconclusive as a treatment for tension-type headaches. However an updated 2009 Cochrane Review on acupuncture and tension-type headaches, which included 11 randomly controlled trials, concluded that acupuncture may be a valuable treatment option for patients suffering from frequent tension-type headaches.
The Cochrane Review stated: “We reviewed 11 trials which investigated whether acupuncture is effective in the prophylaxis of tension-type headache. Two large trials investigating whether adding acupuncture to basic care (which usually involves only treating unbearable pain with pain killers) found that those patients who received acupuncture had fewer headaches. Forty-seven percent of patients receiving acupuncture reported a decrease in the number of headache days by at least 50%, compared to 16% of patients in the control groups. Six trials compared true acupuncture with inadequate or ‘fake’ acupuncture interventions in which needles were either inserted at incorrect points or did not penetrate the skin. Overall, these trials found slightly better effects in the patients receiving the true acupuncture intervention. Fifty percent of patients receiving true acupuncture reported a decrease of the number of headache days by at least 50%, compared to 41% of patients in the groups receiving inadequate or ‘fake’ acupuncture. Three of the four trials in which acupuncture was compared to physiotherapy, massage or relaxation had important methodological shortcomings. Their findings are difficult to interpret, but collectively suggest slightly better results for some outcomes with the latter therapies. In conclusion, the available evidence suggests that acupuncture could be a valuable option for patients suffering from frequent tension-type headache.”
Cochrane Reviews are an integral part of evidence based medicine. It is important to include both allopathic and integrative medicine studies in the rigorous review process to further our knowledge of effective strategies to treat and manage chronic pain conditions.

Add comment May 23rd, 2010

PREP Program International Networking

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by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
One of the aspects of the Pain Research Education and Policy program at Tufts University Medical School that I find so enriching is the diversity of the students, faculty and alumni. The interdisciplinary nature of the program, as well as the international mix of the students helps to create a global community of pain management experts and an ever expanding network of colleagues. I was able to use my Tufts PREP program connections recently by networking with MS-PREP alum Anne Colyn in Luxembourg where she is now living. We had an interesting discussion of the role of integrative modalities of pain management in Europe.

Add comment April 1st, 2010

An International Perspective from the Philippines

by Marie Belle Francia, M.D., M.S.
As an Internist and future Oncologist, pain assessment and management will play a vital role in my practice. That said, one issue I’ve come to realize based on personal experience and discussions with other practitioners is that the field of pain management often receives a disproportionately lower emphasis and share of investment in training programs. This issue is magnified in developing countries (like the Philippines where I will be practicing long term) where latest treatment may sometimes not be available or patients may not be able to afford. This is one of the primary reasons why I pursued the Master of Science in Pain Education, Research and Policy (MS-PREP) at Tufts University School of Medicine.
MS-PREP is a pioneering program that provides students with a solid foundation on the multi-faceted nature of pain. The multidisciplinary nature of the program encourages healthcare professionals to view pain from a broader perspective, seeing pain not as disease but as an illness where quality of life can be a therapeutic goal. The program equips students with knowledge on the molecular mechanism of pain to strategies in enabling changes in society. It has inspired me and my fellow students to search for gaps in knowledge and further contribute to the broader research agenda.

1 comment March 8th, 2009

PREP Gathering of Students, Alumni and Faculty

The PREP program’s small classes and collaborative learning experiences lead to wonderful , long lasting connections between students, faculty and alumni. PREP students, faculty, staff and alumni joined together at a local Boston restaurant on February 13, 2009 to celebrate three new PREP graduates, Anne Colyn, Jess Gerber, and Marie Belle Francia, and wish them well on their new career adventures.
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MS-PREP 2008 graduates Marie Belle Francia, Anne Colyn, and PREP academic director Libby Bradshaw
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MS-PREP 2008 graduate Jess Gerber, PREP student Gretchen Kindstedt, MS-PREP 2008 graduate Anne Colyn
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PREP student Sherry Brink, MS-PREP 2008 graduate Marie Belle Francia, former PREP program director Jeanne Connolly, PREP student Cindy Rodman

1 comment February 14th, 2009

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