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Keywords:

  • migraine;
  • randomized controlled trial;
  • complementary medicine;
  • metoprolol;
  • acupuncture

Objectives.—In a randomized controlled multicenter trial extending over 24 weeks, we investigated whether acupuncture is as effective and safe as metoprolol in the prophylactic treatment of migraine under conditions similar to routine care.

Methods.—One hundred fourteen migraine patients could be randomized to treatment over 12 weeks either with acupuncture (8 to 15 sessions) or metoprolol (100 to 200 mg daily). Main outcome measure was the difference in the number of migraine days between baseline and the weeks 9 to 12 after randomization (derived from a headache diary).

Results.—Two of 59 patients randomized to acupuncture withdrew prematurely from the study compared to 18 of 55 randomized to metoprolol. The number of migraine days decreased by 2.5 ± 2.9 days (baseline 5.8 ± 2.5 days) in the acupuncture group compared to 2.2 ± 2.7 days (baseline 5.8 ± 2.9 days) in the metoprolol group (P= .721). The proportion of responders (reduction of migraine attacks by ≥50%) was 61% for acupuncture and 49% for metoprolol. Both physicians and patients reported fewer adverse effects in the acupuncture group.

Conclusions.—Due to missing the recruitment target (480 patients) and the high drop-out in the metoprolol group the results must be interpreted with caution. Still, they suggest that acupuncture might be an effective and safe treatment option for patients unwilling or unable to use drug prophylaxis.