July 6, 2022 – Dena Ressler, a New Jersey-based retiree in her 60s, had a “splitting headache” that lasted 3 months. It came with a cough and shortness of breath. After serious medical conditions were ruled out, it was found that her headache was stress-related.
“It was constant, scary, and it didn’t go away,” she recalls.
Ressler is a clarinet player with a band that performs Klezmer music, a traditional genre of the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. After weeks of pain, she decided to try acupuncture. And after 3 weeks of regular appointments, the headache disappeared and has not returned.
“Every once in a while, when I’m really tired, I can feel the same pathway of pain in my head – maybe once every month or two – but it’s very slight,” she says.
This wasn’t the first time Ressler had used acupuncture. Several decades ago, when she was in her 30s, she had a severe injury that made her less able to get around. “It took 18 months to get to where I am now – almost fully functional,” she says. “Although I can no longer ride my bike and I still have to be careful not to overdo things, I can do my own yardwork and was able to return to playing the clarinet.” Scientific Research Supports Acupuncture According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, acupuncture may be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain (including migraine or tension-type headaches), provided the acupuncturist is experienced, well-trained, and uses sterile needles.
Chinese researchers recently released results of a new study that looked at 218 patients with chronic tension-type headaches. Most had had headaches for 11 years and were having an average of 21 headache days per month.
Patients were randomly divided into two groups. One received “true acupuncture.” The other group received more superficial “sham” acupuncture. Both groups had 20 sessions spread over 2 months and were followed for 6 more months.
More people in the true acupuncture group, vs. the sham group, showed improvement in their headaches: 68.2% of patients in the true acupuncture group had fewer monthly headache days, vs. 48.1% in the sham group after 16 weeks. At 6 months, the true acupuncture group continued to have fewer monthly headaches, compared to the sham group (68.2% vs. 50%, respectively). “Tension-type headaches are one of the most common types of headaches, and people who have a lot of these headaches may be looking for