Acupuncture in cluster headache: four cases and review of the literature

Abstract

Although cluster headache (CH) is the most disabling form of primary headache, little evidences regarding alternative and complementary therapies are available. Only few dated studies and some isolated cases are described. We describe four patients with CH treated with acupuncture as a preventive treatment, combined with verapamil or alone. All patients received acupuncture treatment twice/week for 2 weeks, then once/week for 8 weeks, and then once/alternate weeks for 2 weeks. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the acupoints selected were: Ex HN-5 Taiyang, GB 14 Yangbai (both only on the affected side), GB 20 Fengchi (on both sides), LI 4 Hegu, LR 2 Xingjiang, SP 6 Sanyinjiao, ST 36 Zusanli (all on both sides). At each point, after the insertion of the needle, the feeling of “De Qi” was evoked; after obtaining this sensation the acupoints were not further stimulated for a period of 20 min, until their extraction. In all patients an interruption of cluster attacks was obtained. To our knowledge, this is the first report concerning acupuncture in CH patients which details the protocol approach, acupoints and duration of the treatment. Our results offer the opportunity to discuss the emerging role of acupuncture in the therapy of CH, assuming a possible influence on opioid system.

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Fig. 1

Abbreviations

CH:

Cluster headache

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All the authors certify that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to this article.

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Correspondence to L. Fofi.

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Fofi, L., Allais, G., Quirico, P.E. et al. Acupuncture in cluster headache: four cases and review of the literature. Neurol Sci 35, 195–198 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-014-1769-6

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Keywords

  • Acupoints
  • Acupuncture
  • Cluster headache
  • Preventive treatment