Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Management Kapaa HI
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Acupuncture Accolades for Migraines
The news is a relief for migraine sufferers: Acupuncture helped reduce frequency and intensity of pain in patients who received acupuncture over an eight-week period, according to German researchers at the University of Munich. Half of the acupuncture group reported at least a 50-percent reduction in headache frequency.
However, the study’s additional findings are making oriental medicine practitioners a bit defensive. Surprisingly, the migraine patients who had needles placed on nonacupuncture points got about the same positive results as those treated by properly placed needles. Is “sham” acupuncture just as effective as the real thing?
Of course not, states Gene Bruno, OMD, LAc, president emeritus of the American Association of Oriental Medicine. “I don’t see any OMDs or acupuncturists listed as study authors,” he says, explaining that clinical trials often are administered by medical doctors who rely on formulaic needle points rather than individually diagnosed acu-points.
“In Chinese medicine it’s critical to know the causal relationship to the headaches,” says Bruno, who practices acupuncture in Salem, Ore. “In my clinic, I might treat one woman whose migraines are from hormone-level changes; another person’s headaches might be related to a stomach functional disease. The points I choose for each patient would be completely different. Choosing an incorrect point can have the same effect as a placebo point,” he says.
“If the study administrators didn’t use the correct diagnostic procedures, that explains why they got the same results as with sham acupuncture—because they didn’t treat the right points,” Bruno continues.
But if the points were wrong, why did any acupuncture work? The placebo effect could be part of the answer, although Bruno has another explanation: “Other studies have shown that neural stimulation of peripheral acupunture points can release small quantities of endorphins, although accurate acupuncture points release larger quantities,” he says. “If ‘exact’ points are not located and stimulated, then there would be no significant difference in the quantity of endorphins released.”
There are other studies confirming acupuncture’s credibility, Bruno says, and they’re conducted by qualified practitioners using complete diagnostic protocol to determine needle placement for each patient. And besides, the bottom line remainsthe same: Acupuncture is effective treatment for migraine pain.
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