Manual Therapy and headaches
Headache is ranked as the 7th highest disability worldwide, and many options - both pharmacological and non-pharmacological - exist for management of this disorder.
This review sought to determine the prevalence of Manual Therapy (MT) and its overall benefit in headache management.
A literature search and meta-analysis was conducted for articles, published between 2000 and 2015 that incorporated hands-on therapy as part of a regular management for headaches. Articles pertaining to both ‘headache’ as well as ‘migraines' were included.
Of the articles reviewed, the authors found that massage therapy was utilized in up to 26% of the studies, physiotherapy input in up to 50% of the studies, and osteopathy was used in 1% of the studies.
Moreover, it was noted that General Practitioners (GPs) played a significant role in the type of treatment that the patients underwent for therapy, with the highest proportion of GP referrals being up to 60% for migraines for chiropractic care.
This study highlights that, while the modes of manual therapy differed, it was highly prevalent throughout Europe, Australia and North America. Even in cases where a neurologist and medical specialist were involved, additional MT ran concurrently in up to 79% of the cases in Europe.
This article is quite limited, as it remains largely unclear which MT strategies are most beneficial. Protocols were not discussed for each discipline, but the prevalence worldwide was the main point of interest. However, this article does note that MT is a commonly used strategy for pain management – even alongside medical management.
Given the prevalence of debilitation due to headaches worldwide, more functional, holistic, and mechanical treatments may serve as additional options. Nevertheless safety and regulation of each mode of input is still a concern, and this article does not further explain which type of treatment is safe for a specific type of headache.
> From: Moore et al., BMC Neurol 17 (2017) 61. All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.