The effectiveness and safety of Tuina for tension-type headache: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2021 May:43:101293. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101293. Epub 2021 Jan 19.


Background and purpose: Tension-type headache (TTH) is one of the most common primary headache diseases in the world and has a serious negative impact on the physical and mental health of patients. Tuina is now widely used to treat tension-type headaches. This article aims to systematically review the evidence about the effectiveness of Tuina on the effectiveness rate, pain intensity, and impact of headache in individuals with TTH.

Methods: Eight databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of Tuina were included in treatments for TTH. Cochrane Collaboration's tool was applied to evaluate the quality of the studies. Confidence in the effect estimates was determined with the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) tool. We use the software STATA 12.0 for meta-analysis and TSA software for test sequence analysis.

Results: Seven studies were included with a total sample of 1228 individuals. Meta-analysis results showed that Tuina was superior to drugs for improving the effectiveness rate (RR = 1.49, 95%CI: 1.25 to 1.77, p < 0.01, low evidence). A visual analog scale (VAS) score of Tuina was significantly lower than that of drugs (WMD = -0.738, 95% CI: -1.128 to -0.349, p < 0.01, moderate evidence). The trial sequential analysis showed that the effectiveness of Tuina for TTH was accurate. Adverse events were tolerable.

Conclusion: Tuina has a certain effect in treating tension headache. However, due to the low level of methodological quality included in the article, this conclusion should be considered cautiously. More studies are necessary to strengthen the evidence regarding the effectiveness and safety of Tuina for subjects with TTH.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Tension-type headache; Tuina.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Tension-Type Headache* / drug therapy