Tension-type headaches


Tension-type headaches are the most common primary headache. Numerous studies have found manual therapy to be effective in reducing headache frequency, intensity, duration, with a positive influence on quality of life, disability, and neck range of movement.


There are more than 150 different classifications of headaches according to the International Headache Society, and tension-type headaches is a main classification with multiple sub-groups.


Manual therapy encompasses a wide range of treatment types, from manipulative therapy, to soft tissue massage. Through research trials, manipulative therapy has shown to improve neck range of motion, reduce disability indices and pain frequency. Soft tissue treatment achieves a greater improvement in the impact and intensity of pain. A combination of both approaches offers the greatest benefit rather than different techniques separately. Exercise therapy is also an area which should be integrated into the treatment programme, consisting of cranio-cervical flexion exercises, to build strength into the deep muscles supporting the head and neck.


Cumplido-Trasmonte, C. et al. (2021). Manual therapy in adults with tension-type headache: A systematic review. 36 (7): 537-547.