Effect of acupressure and trigger points in treating headache: a randomized controlled trial

Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(1):1-14. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X10007634.

Abstract

The efficacy of acupressure in relieving pain has been documented; however, its effectiveness for chronic headache compared to the muscle relaxant medication has not yet been elucidated. To address this, a randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted in a medical center in Southern Taiwan in 2003. Twenty-eight patients suffering chronic headache were randomly assigned to the acupressure group (n = 14) or the muscle relaxant medication group (n = 14). Outcome measures regarding self-appraised pain scores (measured on a visual analogue scale; VAS) and ratings of how headaches affected life quality were recorded at baseline, 1 month after treatment, and at a 6-month follow-up. Pain areas were recorded in order to establish trigger points. Results showed that mean scores on the VAS at post-treatment assessment were significantly lower in the acupressure group (32.9+/-26.0) than in the muscle relaxant medication group (55.7+/-28.7) (p = 0.047). The superiority of acupressure over muscle relaxant medication remained at 6-month follow-up assessments (p = 0.002). The quality of life ratings related to headache showed similar differences between the two groups in the post treatment and at six-month assessments. Trigger points BL2, GV20, GB20, TH21, and GB5 were used most commonly for etiological assessment. In conclusion, our study suggests that 1 month of acupressure treatment is more effective in reducing chronic headache than 1 month of muscle relaxant treatment, and that the effect remains 6 months after treatment. Trigger points help demonstrate the treatment technique recommended if a larger-scale study is conducted in the future.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure*
  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Headache Disorders / complications
  • Headache Disorders / drug therapy
  • Headache Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Relaxation*
  • Neuromuscular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Oxazoles / therapeutic use
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Taiwan
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Neuromuscular Agents
  • Oxazoles
  • mephenoxalone