Home | Drugs Approvals and Trials | Study investigates drug-free relief for tension headaches

Study investigates drug-free relief for tension headaches

As Australia marks its first National Pain Week (24-30 July), RMIT University researchers have begun recruiting volunteers for a new study investigating the use of acupuncture and counselling as a treatment for tension headaches.

About 7 million Australians regularly suffer from tension-type headache, with up to 60 per cent of TTH patients reporting reduced effectiveness at work, home and school because of the painful condition.

Research clinics in Melbourne’s CBD, Bundoora, Box Hill, Mt Waverley and Geelong are currently seeking volunteers aged 18 to 65, who have suffered from tension-type headaches more than one day a month in the last 12 months.

Professor Ken Greenwood, Professor of Psychology in RMIT’s School of Health Sciences, said the project explored the potential effects of combining the two treatments.

“Current pharmaceutical treatments for tension headache offer short-term relief but nearly 80 per cent of users report adverse effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, weight gain or dizziness,” Professor Greenwood said.

“There are also concerns about the health impact of regularly relying on pain medications and their effectiveness in the long-term.

“We know that when acupuncture and CBT treatments are used separately, they can provide relief for people who suffer from tension headache.

“This research will evaluate the effectiveness of combining these treatments, to see if that provides better and longer lasting relief from tension headaches.”

Eligible participants will be offered acupuncture, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or a combined treatment for 12-16 sessions over 12 weeks. Each session lasts 30-50 minutes.

The collaborative research involves acupuncture and pain researchers, psychologists, pain specialists and neurologists from RMIT, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne and Griffith University. The project is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and has been approved by the RMIT Human Research Ethics Committee.

For more information or to volunteer, contact trial coordinator Dr YanYi Wang on (03) 9925 7396 or email headache@rmit.edu.au.

For interviews: Professor Ken Greenwood (03) 9925 7668 or 0409 186 044.

For general media enquiries: RMIT University Communications, Gosia Kaszubska, (03) 9925 3176 or 0417 510 735.

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