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As mentioned in a previous blog, massage therapy is an effective treatment for pain and injury management. In that blog I pointed out, tension and tightness held in the upper trapezius muscle may contribute to the development of tension headaches. A peer reviewed research paper, published, October 2002, Vol 92, No. 10 American Journal of Public Health (Quinn et al.), investigates the relationship between Massage Therapy and Frequency of Chronic Tension Headaches.

The main points of the research indicated some forms of Tension Headaches may be caused by prolonged contraction or tightness of muscles associated with the head and neck. Tight muscle fibres within a muscle known as Trigger Points, can refer pain to the head, and may be the cause of some Tension Headaches. The muscles targeted in the study were, upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, suboccipital, splenius capitis, levator scapulae, and temporalis.

Subjects recruited for the study, were selected based on Headache diagnostic criteria according to, International Headache Society (IHS) guidelines. Each subject received a 30min massage, twice a week for four weeks targeting the muscles mentioned above. The massage techniques used included;

Phase 1 - preparatory tissue warm-up

Phase 2 - myofascial release

Phase 3 - axial cervical traction

Phase 4 - trigger point therapy procedure

Phase 5 - facilitated stretching techniques (MET)

Phase 6 - session closure including relaxing techniques effleurage and petrissage and passive mobilisation of cervical spine

Results showed, a reduction in the number of headaches per week for all subjects, in the first week of treatment. Over the course of the study period, a reduction of both the number and duration of headaches was dramatically reduced. Other positives noted were on a number of occasions, when a subject entered the massage session with a headache, the headache was alleviated by the end of the 30min treatment.

In conclusion, we can be confident, massage therapy is an effective way to improve, reduce, the occurrence of chronic headaches as well as the duration of the headaches. In this case Massage Therapy can be an alternative to taking medication, or a treatment to have with medication, in view of reducing the ongoing use of medications long term for Tension Headaches. see REMEDIAL MASSAGE

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