Ear acupuncture in unilateral migraine pain

Neurol Sci. 2010 Jun;31 Suppl 1:S185-7. doi: 10.1007/s10072-010-0323-4.


The needle contact test (NCT) is a diagnostic technique useful to identify, through the contact of the needle on the skin of the ear, the most efficacious points for reducing pain during a migraine attack. The aim of this study was to identify the most important auricular zones for pain control by applying the NCT in a group of 15 women during a unilateral attack of migraine without aura. We also assessed how effective the insertion of a semi-permanent needle in these zones was in reducing the migraine pain during the next 24 h. The most effective tender points in pain control were located on the antero-internal part of the antitragus, the anterior part of the lobe and the upper auricular concha ipsilateral to the side of pain. The insertion of a semi-permanent needle in these zones allowed stable control of the migraine pain, which occurred within 30 min and persisted at the same levels 24 h later (ANOVA for repeated measures: p < 0.01). Pain was tested by using a visual analogue scale; the values recorded were the following: 7.6 +/- 1.6 at baseline and 4.3 +/- 1.7; 4.1 +/- 1.9; 3.9 +/- 1.8; 3.4 +/- 1.8; 2.3 +/- 1.6 after, respectively, 15, 30, 60, 120 min and 24 h.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture, Ear / methods*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine without Aura / therapy*
  • Needles
  • Pain Measurement