Osteopathy for primary headache patients: a systematic review

J Pain Res. 2017 Mar 14;10:601-611. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S130501. eCollection 2017.


Objective: This systematic review aimed to assess the efficacy, effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in patients with headache.

Background: Migraine is one of the most common and disabling medical conditions. It affects more than 15% of the general population, causing high global socioeconomic costs, and the currently available treatment options are inadequate.

Methods: We systematically reviewed all available studies investigating the use of OMT in patients with migraine and other forms of headache.

Results: The search of literature produced six studies, five of which were eligible for review. The reviewed papers collectively support the notion that patients with migraine can benefit from OMT. OMT could most likely reduce the number of episodes per month as well as drug use. None of the included studies, however, was classified as low risk of bias according to the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias.

Conclusion: The results from this systematic review show a preliminary low level of evidence that OMT is effective in the management of headache. However, studies with more rigorous designs and methodology are needed to strengthen this evidence. Moreover, this review suggests that new manual interventions for the treatment of acute migraine are available and developing.

Keywords: disability; migraine; osteopathic manipulative treatment; pain; tension type headache.

Publication types

  • Review