Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of manual therapy (MT) in participants with chronic tension-type headache (CTTH).
Subjects and methods: We conducted a multicentre, pragmatic, randomised, clinical trial with partly blinded outcome assessment. Eighty-two participants with CTTH were randomly assigned to MT or to usual care by the general practitioner (GP). Primary outcome measures were frequency of headache and use of medication. Secondary outcome measures were severity of headache, disability and cervical function.
Results: After 8 weeks (n = 80) and 26 weeks (n = 75), a significantly larger reduction of headache frequency was found for the MT group (mean difference at 8 weeks, -6.4 days; 95% CI -8.3 to -4.5; effect size, 1.6). Disability and cervical function showed significant differences in favour of the MT group at 8 weeks but were not significantly different at 26 weeks.
Conclusions: Manual therapy is more effective than usual GP care in the short- and longer term in reducing symptoms of CTTH. Dutch Trial Registration no. TR 1074.