Osteopathic Journal ClubBRIEF REPORTCME

Osteopathic manipulative medicine in the management of headaches associated with postconcussion syndrome

Dmitry Esterov, DO; Alphonsa Thomas, DO; and Kyle Weiss, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: February 24, 2020

Accepted: March 8, 2021

Published: April 7, 2021

  • Dmitry Esterov, 

    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

  • Alphonsa Thomas, 

    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Hackensack Meridian Health, Shore Rehabilitation Institute, Brick Township, NJ, USA

  • Kyle Weiss, 

    St. Luke’s Spine and Pain Medicine Associates, Easton, PA, USA

J Osteopath Med; 121(7): 651-656

Context: Previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for various headache types, with limited evidence of its use for headaches related to mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). No studies prior studies were found regarding OMT for headaches in patients with postconcussion syndrome (PCS), defined as symptom persistence for longer than 3 months after MTBI.

Objectives: To evaluate OMT for headaches in patients with PCS.

Methods: A controlled pilot study was conducted of patients with PCS who presented to an outpatient interdisciplinary rehabilitation clinic; patients with symptoms lasting longer than 3 months were enrolled and randomly assigned to an OMT treatment group or a control group. Primary outcome measures were immediate change in headache scores according to a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and change in the six item Headache Impact Test (HIT-6) between baseline and follow up visits. The participants in the control group completed the HIT-6 between baseline and follow up visits but did not receive OMT and did not complete the VAS. Mean immediate VAS score change for the treatment group and mean improvement in HIT-6 scores for both groups between baseline and follow up were analyzed for statistical significance.

Results: A total of 26 patients were included in this study: 13 (50%) in the treatment group and 13 (50%) in the control group. Six patients (23.1%), three from each group, did not complete the study, so 10 subjects in each group were included in the final analysis. Statistically significant improvement in VAS scores was seen immediately after OMT in the treatment group (mean change, 2.1;p=0.002). Mean HIT-6 scores showed improvement in the treatment group compared with the control group, although the change was not statistically significant (p=0.15) from baseline to follow up visit. No adverse effects from treatments were noted.

Conclusions: Patients with headaches secondary to PCS showed immediate benefit in headache pain intensity after OMT. However, no sustained benefit was found on the follow up visit compared with the control group.

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