Neurological Sciences

, 32:173 | Cite as

Ear acupuncture in the treatment of migraine attacks: a randomized trial on the efficacy of appropriate versus inappropriate acupoints

  • Gianni AllaisEmail author
  • Marco Romoli
  • Sara Rolando
  • Gisella Airola
  • Ilaria Castagnoli Gabellari
  • Rita Allais
  • Chiara Benedetto
Brief Communication


Ear acupuncture can be a useful mean for controlling migraine pain. It has been shown that a technique called the Needle Contact Test (NCT) can identify the most efficacious ear acupoints for reducing current migraine pain through just a few seconds of needle contact. The majority of the points were located on the antero-internal part of the antitragus (area M) on the same side of pain. The aim of this study was to verify the therapeutic value of area M and to compare it with an area of the ear (representation of the sciatic nerve, area S) which probably does not have a therapeutic effect on migraine attacks. We studied 94 females suffering from migraine without aura, diagnosed according to the ICHD-II criteria, during the attack. They were randomly subdivided into two groups: in group A, tender points located in area M, positive to NCT were inserted; in group B, the unsuitable area (S) was treated. Changes in pain intensity were measured using a VAS scale at various times of the study. During treatment, there was a highly significant trend in the reduction of the VAS value in group A (Anova for repeated measures: p < 0.001), whereas no significance was observed in group B. VAS values were significantly lower in group A than in group B at 10, 30, 60 and 120 min after needle insertion. This study suggests that the therapeutic specificity of auricular points exists and is linked to the somatotopic representation of our body on the ear.


Ear acupuncture Migraine Pain Somatotopic representation 



International Classification of Headache Disorders


Needle Contact Test


Visual Analogue Scale


Pain Pressure Test


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gianni Allais
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marco Romoli
    • 2
  • Sara Rolando
    • 1
  • Gisella Airola
    • 1
  • Ilaria Castagnoli Gabellari
    • 1
  • Rita Allais
    • 3
  • Chiara Benedetto
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Women’s Headache CenterUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.S.I.R.A.A., Italian Society for Reflexotherapy, Acupuncture and AuricolotherapyPratoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Statistics and Applied Mathematics “Diego de Castro”University of TurinTurinItaly

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