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Joe, a Construction site foreman in his mid-30s, consulted his doctor about eight years ago because he had heard that the GP had started to practice acupuncture some months previously.

Joe told the doctor that he had been experiencing severe and intractable migraine headaches for the past three years.

He was concerned that for the past six months the only form of treatment that offered relief was an injection of Pethidine, a powerful narcotic. These had started off as one injection every two weeks but had recently been given to him at the rate of three injections a week.

After taking a full history and examining him and finding that there were no apparent abnormalities, the doctor proceeded to place approximately eight acupuncture needles into various parts of Joe’s body.

The needles were left in place for half an hour, occasionally being turned by hand. They were then removed and Joe was asked to return the following week for the second treatment.

Two years later he arrived at the doctor’s surgery and said that he had thought he had better come in for a second treatment because he had recently started to have headaches!

Joe has not been seen by the doctor since then, so further comments about his history cannot be given. Although Joe’s response to acupuncture was dramatic, it is not unusual. (According to pain clinic acupuncture practitioners approximately 50 to 70 per cent of classical migraine sufferers respond in some way to acupuncture on its own or combined with medication.)

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