The Trager approach in the treatment of chronic headache: a pilot study

Altern Ther Health Med. Sep-Oct 2004;10(5):40-6.


Context: Although the traditional treatment of headache has been pharmacological, there have been many attempts to treat headaches with other methods with mixed levels of success.

Objective: To obtain preliminary data on the efficacy of the Trager approach in the treatment of chronic headache.

Design: Small-scale randomized controlled clinical trial.

Setting: University-based clinic.

Patients: Thirty-three volunteers with a self-reported history of chronic headache with at least one headache per week for at least 6 months.

Interventions: Medication only control group, medication and attention control group, and medication and Trager treatment group.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported frequency, duration, and intensity of headache, medication usage and headache quality of life (HQOL) obtained at baseline and after a 6-week treatment period.

Results: Analyses of variance demonstrated significant improvement in HQOL for the Trager and attention control groups, and reduction in medication usage for the Trager group (P < 0.05). Within-group analyses revealed that participants randomized to Trager demonstrated a significant decrease in the frequency of headaches (P = 0.045), improvement in HQOL (P = 0.045), and a 44% decrease in medication usage (P = 0.03). Participants randomized to the attention control group demonstrated a significant improvement in HQOL (P = 0.035) and a 19% decrease in medication usage (P = 0.15). Participants randomized to the no-treatment control group revealed a significant increase in headache duration (P = 0.025) and intensity (P = 0.025), and a declination in HQOL (P = 0.035).

Conclusions: The Trager approach decreased headache frequency and medication usage. Trager and physician attention improved HQOL. A larger, multi-site study is recommended.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Headache Disorders / prevention & control
  • Headache Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychophysiology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Relaxation Therapy* / standards
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome