Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

Jane Tries Acupuncture for her Migraines

Jane, a college student, had migraine headaches for four years. At first, they lasted only a day or two, but over the past year they have increased in frequency and often last 3-4 days. She saw her primary care provider, who gave her prescriptions for two different medications. After trying the medications for 6 months, Jane was concerned that they were not helping the migraines and were giving her side effects that interfered with her ability to keep up in class and study.

Jane had heard about acupuncture treatments for headaches and wondered if they would be a better option for her.

Category

Prescription Medications

Acupuncture

Risk

Cost risk: Low, since health insurance pays all but $20/month copay.

Health risk: Moderate to High. Jane finds the medications interfere with her ability to do study.

Cost risk: Moderate, since Jane will probably have to pay for the treatments herself.

Health risk: Low. There are few side effects or adverse events associated with acupuncture.

Evidence

Good. The medications have undergone clinical trials and FDA approval.

Moderate to Good: Found 129 articles on PubMed on acupuncture and migraine headaches.

Benefit

Low: The medications aren't helping her migraines.

Good: A large 2004 study in the British Medical Journal reported that those in the acupuncture group had fewer headaches and took less medication.


Jane thought that the evidence was moderately strong, but still not definitive. However, it seemed that the risk associated with acupuncture treatments was low, and the benefits high. Since her prescription drugs weren't giving her relief, she decided to stop taking them and give acupuncture a try.

 

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