Tension-type headache is one of the most prevalent types of headache. The common presentation is a mild-to-moderate dull aching pain around the temporal region, like a tight band around the forehead, neck, shoulder, and sometimes behind eyes. It can occur at any age but most commonly in the adult female population. The exact underlying mechanism is not clear but muscle tension is one of the main causes, which can be due to stress and anxiety. There are several non-pharmacologic treatment options suggested for tension-type headaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation, biofeedback, acupuncture, exercise, manual therapy, and even some home remedies. This systematic review was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture and manual therapy in tension-type headaches. The literature search was primarily done on PubMed. Eight articles involving 3846 participants showed evidence that acupuncture and manual therapy can be valuable non-pharmacological treatment options for tension-type headaches. Acupuncture was compared to routine care or sham intervention. Acupuncture was not found to be superior to physiotherapy, exercise, and massage therapy. Randomized controlled trials done in various countries showed manual therapy also significantly decreased headache intensity. Manual therapy has an efficacy that equals prophylactic medication and tricyclic antidepressants in treating tension-type headaches. The available data suggests that both acupuncture and manual therapy have beneficial effects on treating symptoms of tension-type headache. However, further clinical trials looking at long-term benefits and risks are needed.
Copyright © 2021, Turkistani et al.