Combination of acupuncture and medical training therapy on tension type headache: results of a randomised controlled pilot study

  • Objectives: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of acupuncture and medical training therapy alone and in combination with those of usual care on the pain sensation of patients with frequent episodic and chronic tension-type headache. Design: This was a prospective single-centre randomised controlled trial with four balanced treatment arms. The allocation was carried out by pre-generated randomisation lists in the ratio 1:1:1:1 with different permutation block sizes. Setting: The study was undertaken in the outpatient clinic of Rehabilitation Medicine of the Hannover Medical School. Participants and interventions: Ninety-six adult patients with tension-type headache were included and randomised into usual care (n = 24), acupuncture (n = 24), medical training (n = 24), and combination of acupuncture and medical training (n = 24). One patient was excluded from analysis because of withdrawing her/his consent, leaving 95 patients for intention to treat analysis. Each therapy arm consisted of 6 weeks of treatment with 12 interventions. Follow-up was at 3 and 6 months. Main outcome measures: Pain intensity (average, maximum and minimum), frequency of headache, responder rate (50% frequency reduction), duration of headache and use of headache medication. Clinical results: The combination of acupuncture and medical training therapy significantly reduced mean pain intensity compared to usual care (mean = −38%, standard deviation = 25%, p = 0.012). Comparable reductions were observed for maximal pain intensity (−25%, standard deviation = 20%, 0.014) and for minimal pain intensity (−35%, standard deviation = 31%, 0.03). In contrast, neither acupuncture nor medical training therapy differed significantly from usual care. No between-group differences were found in headache frequency, mean duration of headache episodes, and pain medication intake. At 3 months, the majority of all patients showed a reduction of at least 50% in headache frequency. At 6 months, significantly higher responder rates were found in all intervention groups compared to usual care. Conclusions: In contrast to monotherapy, only the combination of acupuncture and medical training therapy was significantly superior in reduction of pain intensity compared to usual care.

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Author:Jörg Schiller, Matthias Karst, Tim Kellner, Wen Zheng, Daniel NiedererORCiDGND, Lutz VogtGND, Isabelle Eckhardt, Florian Beißner, Christoph Korallus, Christian Sturm, Christoph Egen, Christoph Gutenbrunner, Matthias Georg Fink
Parent Title (English):Cephalalgia
Publisher:Blackwell Science
Place of publication:Oxford
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2020/12/20
Date of first Publication:2020/12/20
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/07/14
Tag:acupuncture; exercise therapy; medical training; tension type headache; traditional Chinese medicine
Page Number:15
First Page:879
Last Page:893
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell 4.0