Background: Tension-type headache (TTH) is essentially defined as bilateral headache of a pressing or tightening quality without a known medical cause. Myofascial release (MFR) is currently being applied for patients with TTH but its efficacy has not been evaluated formally.
Objective: To investigate whether direct technique myofascial release (DT-MFR) reduces the frequency of headache more effectively than the indirect technique myofascial release (IDT-MFR) in comparison to a Control Group receiving slow soft stroking.
Design: Randomized, controlled, single blinded trial.
Setting: The clinical wing of Myofascial Therapy and Research Foundation, Kerala, India.
Participants: 63 patients with episodic or chronic tension-type headache.
Interventions: DT-MFR, IDT-MFR or Control. The techniques were administered by certified myofascial release practitioners and consisted of 24 sessions per patient over 12 weeks.
Main outcome measure: Difference in numbers of days with headache between Weeks 1-4 (i.e. 4 weeks prior to start of Intervention) and Weeks 17-20, following 12 weeks of Intervention between Weeks 5-16 as recorded by participants in headache diaries.
Results: The number of days with headache per 4 weeks decreased by 7.1 (2.6) [mean (SD)] days in the DT-MFR group compared with 6.7 (1.8) days in the IDT-MFR group and 1.6 (0.5) days in the control group, (P < 0.001). Patients in the DT-MFR Group, IDT-MFR Group and Control Group reported a 59.2%, 54% and 13.3% reduction in their headache frequency in Weeks 17-20 compared to that in Weeks 1-4.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence that Direct Technique or Indirect Technique Myofascial Release is more effective than the Control Intervention for tension headache.
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