migraine prophylaxis

Acupuncture versus propranolol in migraine prophylaxis: an indirect treatment comparison meta-analysis


Propranolol is recommended as a first-line treatment for preventing migraine attacks; acupuncture has not been compared with propranolol in a head-to-head trial.


To compare acupuncture with propranolol using indirect treatment comparison meta-analysis.


We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). Randomized controlled trials comparing acupuncture or propranolol with sham acupuncture, placebo, waiting-list control or usual care were included. We extracted information from the included trials using a standardized extraction form. The primary outcome was migraine episodes. The secondary outcomes included migraine days, migraine frequency, and adverse events.


We included 19 RCTs (n = 3656) after screening 1078 articles. The analysis showed that acupuncture had a significant advantage over propranolol in reducing migraine episodes over a 4-week period (SMD − 0.74, 95% CI − 1.04 to − 0.44). Acupuncture also had a significant advantage over waiting-list control in decreasing migraine frequency (SMD − 1.57, 95% CI − 2.08 to − 1.06). Acupuncture caused fewer adverse events than propranolol (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.11–5.94).


Acupuncture had a better effect than propranolol in reducing migraine episodes in indirect comparison. The result should be confirmed in subsequent head-to-head studies.

Registration: PROSPERO CRD42018108585

Source: This article was published on Springer.com – Journal of Neurology

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