Acupuncture For Headaches associated with Traumatic Brain Injury: Recent Study

Acupuncture For Headaches associated with Traumatic Brain Injury: Recent Study

10 June 2017 by Caitlin Armit

A study published in the 2016 Medical Acupuncture journal assessed whether Auricular Acupuncture (AA) and Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCA) were more effective than usual care alone for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) related headaches. The researchers acknowledge that 80% of military service members report chronic or recurrent headaches and therefore evidence for non-pharmacologic treatments are required.

The research was conducted at three military facilities in Washington DC and included patients aged 18-69 who had been previously deployed service members with mild to moderate TBI and headaches. Participants were randomised into one of three groups:

  1. Usual care only
  2. Usual care plus Traditional Chinese Acupuncture
  3. Usual care plus Auricular Acupuncture

The primary outcome measure was the Headache Impact Test (HIT). Secondary outcome measures were:

  • Numerical Rating Scale (NRS)
  • Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist
  • Symptom Checklist-90-R
  • Medical Outcome Study Quality of Life
  • Beck Depression Inventory
  • State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
  • Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics
  • Expectancy of outcome and acupuncture efficacy

The study found that the average HIT scores decreased in two acupuncture groups (-10.2% and -6.4% respectively) but increased slightly in the Usual Care only group (+0.8%) over a six week period. Both acupuncture groups also had decreases in the NRS scale compared to Usual Care. Results for other secondary outcome measures were not statistically significant. The researchers note that expectancy of outcome with acupuncture efficacy was not a major factor in explaining the positive outcomes of treatment. Despite the small sample size, this study indicates that acupuncture may be a viable and effective treatment option for people experiencing headaches associated with traumatic brain injury.


For more information about this study read the article via the link below:

A Randomized Exploratory Study to Evaluate Two Acupuncture Methods for the Treatment of Headaches Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury



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