Widely reported in the media this week is a story that painkillers ‘are the cause’ of millions of headaches. It has long been known that overuse of painkillers can cause headaches and migraines that feel identical to patient’s normal pain. This can lead to a vicious circle of increasing headaches and migraines with reliance of medication that is causing or worsening the problem. The warning came as part of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) first guidelines for treating headaches. The guidelines include a recommendation for acupuncture in patients susceptible to migraine and tension headaches.
The World Health Organization estimates that as much as 5% of the population can be affected by medication overuse headaches.
Benefits of acupuncture for migraines and tension headaches.
“We would expect that to lead to more people getting acupuncture, but given there is good evidence to show this is effective for the prevention of both tension-type and migraine-type headaches then that is a good thing because people are getting access to an effective treatment,” Prof Martin Underwood said. Prof Underwood, of Wawrick Medical School, led the NICE panel that is now recommending acupuncture.
My last blog post was about the updated Cochrane review which now recommends acupuncture for migraines, so the NICE guidelines are in line with the latest scientific research.