Are non-invasive interventions effective for the management of headaches associated with neck pain? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration

Are non-invasive interventions effective for the management of headaches associated with neck pain? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration

  • Sharanya Varatharaja, Brad Ferguso, Karen Chroba, Yaadwinder Shergill, Pierre Côté Jessica J. Wong, Hainan Yu, Heather M. Shearer, Danielle Southerst, Deborah SuttoKristi Randhawa, Craig Jacobs, Sean Abdulla, Erin Woitzik, Andrée-Anne Marchand, Gabrielle van der Velde, Linda J. Carroll, Margareta Nordin, Carlo Ammendolia, Silvano Mior, Arthur Ameis,Maja Stupar, Anne Taylor-Vaisey

European Spine Journal, Volume 25, pp 1971-1999

Abstract

Purpose

To update findings of the 2000–2010 Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and its Associated Disorders and evaluate the effectiveness of non-invasive and non-pharmacological interventions for the management of patients with headaches associated with neck pain (i.e., tension-type, cervicogenic, or whiplash-related headaches).

Methods

We searched five databases from 1990 to 2015 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs), cohort studies, and case–control studies comparing non-invasive interventions with other interventions, placebo/sham, or no interventions. Random pairs of independent reviewers critically appraised eligible studies using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network criteria to determine scientific admissibility. Studies with a low risk of bias were synthesized following best evidence synthesis principles.

Results

We screened 17,236 citations, 15 studies were relevant, and 10 had a low risk of bias. The evidence suggests that episodic tension-type headaches should be managed with low load endurance craniocervical and cervicoscapular exercises. Patients with chronic tension-type headaches may also benefit from low load endurance craniocervical and cervicoscapular exercises; relaxation training with stress coping therapy; or multimodal care that includes spinal mobilization, craniocervical exercises, and postural correction. For cervicogenic headaches, low load endurance craniocervical and cervicoscapular exercises; or manual therapy (manipulation with or without mobilization) to the cervical and thoracic spine may also be helpful.

Conclusions

The management of headaches associated with neck pain should include exercise. Patients who suffer from chronic tension-type headaches may also benefit from relaxation training with stress coping therapy or multimodal care. Patients with cervicogenic headache may also benefit from a course of manual therapy.

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