Research Shows Acupuncture is a More Effective Treatment for Migraines

acupuncture for migraines

It is estimated that one out of every six Americans suffers from chronic headaches. With more than 300 million Americans, that adds up to tens of millions of people. Currently, the most common means of treatment is medication. It is not always successful and comes with side effects whether it does or does not help. People are eager for some new method of migraine relief.

Although the NIH has been to the degree it deserves. More recently, Duke has joined the chorus of voices advocating for it after conducting a meta-study investigating migraine relief via acupuncture. This meta-study concluded that acupuncture for headaches is more effective than medication for chronic headache sufferers.

The team of Duke analysts conducted a comprehensive review of the most rigorous trials they could find. They only included studies with randomized controlled trials that tested the effectiveness of acupuncture for adult chronic headache patients. In order to be at least 28 days in length.

In a nutshell, this meta-study concluded that acupuncture for headaches is not only a viable alternative to a combination of low costs, lack of side effects and greater efficacy than the alternatives studied.

People interested in pursuing this as a treatment option can expect sessions to have a little patience as you typically will not start seeing results until after a handful of sessions.

It is common for people who have not actually tried acupuncture to assume it is painful. They hear it involves needles and probably imagine the kinds of needles used in sewing or with syringes. Nothing could be further from the truth. The actual instruments used are incredibly small and cause no pain during the course of treatment.

Consider this fact: Acupuncture is actually thousands of years old. So while it may be new to you, the reality is that it is far more well established than most Western treatment modalities which typically have not been around anywhere near as long.

Some of the studies in question compared acupuncture to be more effective. The meta-study included data approximately 4000 test subjects and nearly three dozen studies. Approximately half of the studies included in the meta-study looked specifically at migraine patients, while other studies involved people suffering from either tension headaches or other kinds of chronic headaches.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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