Electroacupuncture for Tension-type Headache on Distal Acupoints Only: A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial
Article first published online: 13 APR 2004
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain
Volume 44, Issue 4, pages 333–341, April 2004
How to Cite
Xue, C. C. L., MApplSc, L. D., Polus, B., English, R. A., Zheng, Z., Costa, C. D., Li, C. G. and Story, D. F. (2004), Electroacupuncture for Tension-type Headache on Distal Acupoints Only: A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 44: 333–341. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2004.04077.x
- Issue published online: 13 APR 2004
- Article first published online: 13 APR 2004
- Accepted for publication January 4, 2004.
- tension-type headache;
- acupuncture analgesia;
- Chinese medicine
Objective.—To investigate the efficacy of electroacupuncture, applied to distal acupoints only, for tension-type headache.
Background.—Electroacupuncture is commonly used for tension-type headache, but when applied to distal acupoints only, evidence of its efficacy is lacking.
Design.—A randomized, single-blinded, sham-controlled, crossover clinical trial.
Methods.—The trial had 5 stages: baseline (2 weeks), phases I and II (each 4 weeks), washout period (2 weeks), and follow-up (3 months after phase II). Forty patients were randomly assigned to either group A or group B. Group A received real electroacupuncture during phase I, then sham electroacupuncture in phase II. Group B received the treatments in reverse order. Outcome measures were headache frequency and duration, pain intensity using a visual analog scale, mechanical pain threshold, headache disability, and sickness impact. Data were analyzed by univariate 2-way analysis of variance.
Results.—Thirty-seven patients completed the trial. There were no significant differences between the 2 groups at baseline. At the end of phase I, group A, but not group B, demonstrated significant improvement in mean (standard error of the mean [SEM]) headache frequency (3.0 per month [0.3] versus 12.0 per month [1.7]), duration (13.3 hours [3.5] versus 32.0 hours [6.2]), pain intensity (32.8 mm [4.1] versus 47.5 mm [2.7]), pain threshold (right side, 2.9 kg/second [0.1] versus 0.9 kg/second [0.1]; left side, 2.4 kg/second [0.1] versus 1.1 kg/second [0.1]), headache disability score (6.0 [1.0] versus 16.3 [1.6]), and sickness impact score (288.7 [48.0] versus 687.1 [77.2]). For each parameter, significant differences also were demonstrated for both groups between baseline and phase II, and baseline and follow-up. There were no significant differences between the groups at the end of follow-up (P > .05).
Conclusion.—Electroacupuncture to distal points alone is effective for short-term symptomatic relief of tension-type headache.