Strength-based exercise is widely used to treat tension-type headache, but the evidence of its benefit is unclear. This study aims to analyze the efficacy of a strength-based exercise program in patients with chronic tension-type headaches.
A randomized controlled trial with a 12-week strength-based exercise program, with chronic tension-type headache. The headache characteristics (which were the primary outcomes: frequency, duration, and intensity), cervical muscle thickness at rest or contraction of multifidus and longus-colli muscle, cervical range of motion, pain pressure threshold of temporalis, upper trapezius, masseter, tibialis muscle and median nerve, and cervical craniocervical flexion test were assessed at baseline and 12-weeks of follow-up in the intervention group (n = 20) and the control group (n = 20) was performed on 40 patients (85% women, aged 37.0 ± 13.3 years).
Between baseline and week-12 of follow-up the intervention group showed statistically significant differences compared to control group in the following primary outcomes: duration and intensity of headaches. In addition, the intervention group improved the thickness of deep cervical muscles, reduced the peripheral sensitization, and improved the strength of deep cervical flexors.
A 12-week strength training of neck and shoulder region induced changes in pain intensity and duration, and physical-related factors in patients with TTH. Future interventions are needed to investigate if normalization of pain characteristics and physical factors can lead to an increase of headache-related impact.