[Therapeutic exercise as treatment for migraine and tension-type headaches: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials]

Rev Neurol. 2013 Nov 16;57(10):433-43.
[Article in Spanish]

in En , Spanish

AIM. To analyse the effectiveness of therapeutic exercise on migraines and tension-type headaches (TTH). MATERIALS AND METHODS. Electronic databases were used to search the literature for relevant articles. Eligibility criteria were: controlled randomised clinical trials (RCT), conducted on patients with migraine or TTH, in which the therapeutic intervention was based on therapeutic exercise, and the papers had been published in English and Spanish. Two independent reviewers performed the analysis of the methodological quality using the Delphi scale. RESULTS. Ten RCT were selected, seven of which offered good methodological quality. According to all the studies analysed, the intensity and frequency of pain diminished in comparison to the situation prior to establishing therapeutic exercise, and in five studies the effect was higher than in the control group. The qualitative analysis showed strong evidence of the absence of adverse events following the application of therapeutic exercise. Furthermore, strong evidence was also found of the effect of physiotherapeutic treatment, including therapeutic exercise, in lowering the intensity, frequency and duration of pain in patients with TTH. Limited evidence was also found of the effectiveness of aerobic exercise in patients with migraine, although it was not better than the effects derived from other forms of treatment. CONCLUSIONS. Results show that therapeutic exercise is a safe treatment that provides beneficial effects on migraines or TTH. Further RCT are required in the future with appropriate methodological designs to confirm these results.

Title: Ejercicio terapeutico como tratamiento de las migrañas y cefaleas tensionales: revision sistematica de ensayos clinicos aleatorizados.

Objetivo. Analizar la efectividad que tiene el ejercicio terapeutico sobre las migrañas y las cefaleas de tipo tensional (CTT). Materiales y metodos. La busqueda de articulos se realizo utilizando bases de datos electronicas. Los criterios de inclusion fueron: estudios clinicos aleatorizados (ECA) controlados, realizados en pacientes con migrañas o CTT, donde la intervencion terapeutica se basara en ejercicio terapeutico y publicados en ingles y español. Dos revisores independientes realizaron el analisis de la calidad metodologica utilizando la escala Delphi. Resultados. Se seleccionaron 10 ECA, de los cuales siete presentaron una calidad metodologica buena. Segun todos los estudios analizados, el ejercicio terapeutico disminuyo la intensidad y frecuencia del dolor comparado con la situacion previa, y en cinco estudios el efecto fue mayor que en la comparativa con el grupo control. El analisis cualitativo muestra evidencia fuerte acerca de la ausencia de eventos adversos tras la aplicacion de ejercicio terapeutico. Ademas, se encontro evidencia fuerte acerca del efecto del tratamiento de fisioterapia, incluyendo el ejercicio terapeutico, para disminuir la intensidad, la frecuencia y la duracion del dolor en pacientes con CTT. Se observo evidencia limitada acerca de la efectividad del ejercicio aerobico sobre los pacientes con migraña sin ser superior el efecto al de otros tratamientos. Conclusiones. Los resultados muestran que el ejercicio terapeutico es un tratamiento seguro, que presenta efectos beneficiosos sobre las migrañas o las CTT. Es necesario que futuros ECA con diseños metodologicos adecuados confirmen estos resultados.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy
  • Adult
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Movement Techniques*
  • Female
  • Fructose / analogs & derivatives
  • Fructose / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control
  • Migraine Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Research Design
  • Tension-Type Headache / drug therapy
  • Tension-Type Headache / prevention & control
  • Tension-Type Headache / rehabilitation
  • Tension-Type Headache / therapy*
  • Topiramate
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics
  • Topiramate
  • Fructose