Effectiveness of direct vs indirect technique myofascial release in the management of tension-type headache

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2011 Oct;15(4):431-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2011.01.021. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Abstract

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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fascia*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tension-Type Headache / therapy*