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Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and the Management of Headaches: A Scoping Review


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Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment,Cranial and Pediatric,Fascial

Cureus. 2022 Aug 9;14(8):e27830.
doi: 10.7759/cureus.27830. eCollection 2022 Aug.


Cesar E Jara Silva, Andrew M Joseph, Mohammed Khatib, Jenna Knafo, Monica Karas, Kristina Krupa, Benjamin Rivera, Alexander Macia, Bhargavi Madhu, Mary McMillan, Jason Burtch, Jonathan Quinonez, Trevine Albert, Deepesh Khanna


Headaches have been studied and treated since nearly 7,000 BC because of their significant global impact. Current headache treatment modalities are various and have a wide variety of targets, but medications are the most common. Since conventional medical treatments have several side effects, alternative remedies such as osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) should be considered. OMT can assist in the management of various health conditions, such as low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. The purpose of this scoping review is to evaluate recent findings regarding the efficacy of OMT modalities in the management of headaches such as tension-type headaches (TTH) and migraines. This study was designed as a scoping review to gather evidence on the efficacy of OMT modalities in the management of headaches. Following PRISMA guidelines, four databases were used to search for articles published between 2010 and 2022 that reported the use of OMT and manual therapy for TTH and migraines. Databases used include Embase, PubMed, Medline, and Web of Science. The following keywords were used: treatment, therapy, Headache, migraine, craniosacral, muscle energy, myofascial release, trigger point, osteopathic, and manipulation. The initial search yielded 473 unique articles after removing duplicates. After screening based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria, and after further analysis, 15 articles were selected. Data reports of OMT and manual therapy efficacy and/or effectiveness in treating TTH and migraine were analyzed. Articles included were randomized control studies (13 of 15, 86.6%), one pilot study (one of 15, 6.7%), and one case series (one of 15, 6.7%), which were divided into TTH (nine of 15, 60%) and Migraine Headaches (six of 15, 40%). All articles reported significant headache improvement in at least one measurement. Of all treatments analyzed, single technique interventions (seven of 15, 47%) and multiple technique interventions (eight of 15, 53%) were identified. Among the techniques used, Myofascial Release was the most common (nine of 15, 60%). The articles presented provide evidence of the significant benefits of manual therapy. Because of the limitations of traditional medicine, OMT can be used either as an alternative or adjuvant therapy for headaches. Evidence suggests the positive impact it can provide on headache management, but the number of randomized control trials and population samples should be increased to support its recommendation. This demonstrates how different osteopathic techniques can provide therapeutic effects on TTH, MH, and potentially other types of headaches. A preference for myofascial release was observed, which can be due to the fast relief from the physiologic effect on tissue movement. This review study demonstrates the benefits OMT has on decreasing headache frequency, intensity, and duration in TTH and migraines. OMT has shown to be beneficial, especially for patients seeking alternative non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive treatments. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effects of different OMT techniques, and different combinations of treatments, on other types of headaches.

Publication Date: 

2022 Aug



Silva, JEC., Joseph, MA., Khatib, M., Knafo, J., Karas, M., Krupa, K., Rivera, B., Macia, A., Madhu, B., Mcmillan, M., Burtch, J., Quinonez, J., Albert, T., Khanna, D. (2022) 'Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and the Management of Headaches: A Scoping Review ', Cureus. 2022 Aug 9;14(8):e27830. doi: 10.7759/cureus.27830. eCollection 2022 Aug.

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