NMM/OMTBrief Report

Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy in Patients With Chronic Tension Type Headache: A Pilot Study

Manuela Deodato, PT, DO (Italy); Franco Guolo, PT, DO (Italy); Antonella Monticco, PT; Mauro Fornari, PT, DO (Italy); Paolo Manganotti, MD; and Antonio Granato, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: December 19, 2018

Accepted: January 28, 2019

Published: August 12, 2019

J Osteopath Med; 119(10): 682-687

Context: Nonpharmacologic treatment, such as osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMTh; manipulative care provided by foreign trained osteopaths) may be a beneficial complementary treatment for tension type headache. However, to the authors’ knowledge, the benefit of OMTh in the management of tension-type headache has not been explored, especially chronic tension-type headache (CTTH).

Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness of OMTh compared with traditional treatment in reducing pain intensity, frequency, and duration of CTTH, and to evaluate the objective postural measurement of the forward head posture (FHP) as an integral parameter in the assessment of the effects of OMTh and traditional management of CTTH.

Methods: Patients with CTTH were registered at the Headache Centre of Trieste in Italy. At the time of the study, none of the patients had been taking any headache prophylaxis in the past 3 months. A 3 month baseline period was recorded by all patients with an ad hoc diary. Patients were randomly placed in the test or control group using a simple randomization program in Excel (Microsoft). Patients in the OMTh group underwent a 3-month period of OMTh, and patients in the control group were treated with amitriptyline. Pain intensity, frequency, and duration of headaches, as well as FHP were analyzed.

Results: The study enrolled 10 patients (mean [SD] age, 42.6 [15.2] years) in the OMTh group and 10 patients (51.4 [17.3] years) in the control group. The final assessment of OMTh patients showed statistically significant changes in all headache parameters: pain intensity decreased from a mean (SD) score of 4.9 (1.4) to 3.1 (1.1) (P=.002); frequency decreased from 19.8 (6) to 8.3 (6.2) days per month (P=.002); and the duration of headaches decreased from 10 (4.2) to 6 (3) hours (P=.01). Significant improvement of all parameters was found in the control group as well: pain intensity decreased from a mean (SD) score of 5.9 (0.7) to 4.2 (1.75) (P=.03); frequency decreased from 23.4 (7.2) to 7.4 (8.7) days per month (P=.003); and duration decreased from 7.8 (2.9) to 3.6 (2.1) hours (P=.002). Forward head posture significantly improved in OMTh patients (P=.003).

Conclusions: Our data suggested that OMTh may be an effective treatment to improve headaches in patients with CTTH. Our results also suggest that OMTh may reduce FHP.

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