Purpose of Review
This review highlights the importance of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in headache sufferers. OMT is a viable option for patients who either do not wish to use pharmaceuticals or who have contraindications to pharmaceuticals. Patients with headaches that are refractory to other treatment options may also be candidates for OMT. Multiple headache etiologies are amenable to this non-invasive treatment option and they will be reviewed here. Although there are advantages to using this treatment method, there are also shortcomings in the literature, which will be discussed.
Roughly 45 million Americans suffer from headaches every year. Many headache sufferers are unable to find relief through conventional treatment options. OMT is a useful non-invasive treatment option with little to no side effects. There are multiple headache types. Migraine, tension-type headache, combat-related events, post-traumatic headache, sinusitis, tooth extraction, concussions, and others have all shown benefit from OMT.
OMT is a non-invasive treatment option for individuals suffering from various types of headaches. This treatment option is tailored to the individual needs of the patient and is delivered by licensed and experienced osteopathic physicians. This review of literature also highlights where there is need for further research in the field.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
Is it a headache, or is it a migraine? - revere health | live better. Revere Health, 11 Apr. 2018, reverehealth.com/live-better/headache-or-migraine/.
American migraine foundation launches ‘Move Against Migraine’ initiative. American Migraine Foundation, 27 Oct. 2017, americanmigrainefoundation.org/2017/03/14/american-migraine-foundation-launches-move-against-migraine.
Headache medications: relief & treatment. Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/9652-headache-medications.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/9652-headache-medications
Malone CD, Bhowmick A, Wachholtz AB. Migraine: treatments, comorbidities, and quality of life, in the USA. J Pain Res. 2015;8:537–47.
Wackenfors A, Jarvius M, Ingemansson R, Edvinsson L, Malmsjo M. Triptans induce vasoconstriction of human arteries and veins from the thoracic wall. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2005;45:476–84.
PDR Search. Diovan (Valsartan) dose, indications, adverse effects, interactions... from PDR.net, www.pdr.net/drug-summary/D-H-E-45-dihydroergotamine-mesylate-1552.
Bigal ME, Serrano D, Buse D, Scher A, Stewart WF, Lipton RB. Acute migraine medications and evolution from episodic to chronic migraine: a longitudinal population-based study. Headache. 2008;48:1157–68.
Botox for migraine. American Migraine Foundation,americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/botox-for-migraine/.
Diener HC, Dodick DW, Aurora SK, Turkel CC, DeGryse RE, Lipton RB, et al. OnabotulinumtoxinA for treatment of chronic migraine: results from the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled phase of the PREEMPT 2 trial. Cephalalgia. 2010;30(7):804–14.
Botox injections. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 29 Dec. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/botox/about/pac-20384658
Residency training. osteopathic residency training | neuromusculoskeletal medicine (NMM) | osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), www.academyofosteopathy.org/residency-training.
Glossary Review Committee, for the Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology. April 2002. Available at: http://www.do-online.osteotech.org/pdf/sir_collegegloss.pdf. Accessed February 4, 2018.
•• Radiographic evidence of cranial bone mobility Sheryl Lynn Oleski , B.S., Gerald H. Smith , D.D.S. & William T. Crow , D.O. Pages 34-38 | Received 23 May 2001, Accepted 05 Sep 2001, Published online: 13 Jul 2016. Evidence of cranial bone mobility.
Ruffini N, D’Alessandro G, Mariani N, Pollastrelli A, Cardinali L, Cerritelli F. Variations of high frequency parameter of heart rate variability following osteopathic manipulative treatment in healthy subjects compared to control group and sham therapy: randomized controlled trial. Front Neurosci. 2015;9(272). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2015.00272.
•• Ching LM. Research into osteopathic manipulative medicine: steps on the evidence pyramid. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2016;116(3):133–4. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2016.029 Evidence of a lymphatic system in the Brain.
Jäkel A, von Hauenschild P. Therapeutic effects of cranial osteopathic manipulative medicine: a systematic review. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2011;111(12):685–93.
• Lee-Wong M, Karagic M, Doshi A, Gomez S, Resnick D. An osteopathic approach to chronic sinusitis. J Aller Ther. 2011;2(2):109. https://doi.org/10.4172/2155-6121.1000109 Evidence of OMT relieving sinus headache symptoms.
Monzani L, Espí-López GV, Zurriaga R, Andersen LL. Manual therapy for tension-type headache related to quality of work life and work presenteeism: secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2016;25:86–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2016.01.008.
King HH. Manual craniosacral therapy may reduce symptoms of migraine headache. J Am Osteopath Assoc. Jan. 2017;117(1):59. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2017.011.
Dippolito M, et al. Effects of osteopathic manipulative therapy on pain and mood disorders in patients with high-frequency migraine. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2017;117(6):365–9. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2017.074.
• Rolle G, et al. Pilot trial of osteopathic manipulative therapy for patients with frequent episodic tension-type headache. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014;114(9):675–85. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2014.136 Evidence of OMT relieving Tension headache symptoms.
• Meyer PM, Gustowski SM. Osteopathic manipulative treatment to resolve head and neck pain after tooth extraction. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2012;112(7):457–60 Osteopathic manipulative treatment for chronic nonspecific neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis Franke, Helge et al.International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine , Volume 18 , Issue 4 , 255–267. Evidence of OMT relieving headache symptoms related to a tooth extraction.
Soshnick S, Mezzone C, Yao S, Abu-Sbaih R. Osteopathic considerations in the management of migraine in pregnancy. Osteopath Fam Physician. 2015;7(2):1923 http://www.ofpjournal.com/index.php/ofp/article/viewFile/381/309.
Channell MK, Mueller LL, Hahn R. Management of Chronic Posttraumatic Headache: A Multidisciplinary Approach. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2009;109(9):509–513. (King HH. Recognizing the value of manual therapy interventions for head pain. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2017;117(1):60–62. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2017.013.)
Guernsey DT, et al. Resolution of concussion symptoms after osteopathic manipulative treatment: a case report. J Am Osteopath Assoc. Jan. 2016;116(3):e13–7. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2016.036.
Alexander J. Resolution of new daily persistent headache after osteopathic manipulative treatment. J Am Osteopath Assoc. Jan. 2016;116(3):182–5. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2016.035.
Migraine facts. Migraine Research Foundation, migraineresearchfoundation.org/about migraine/migraine-facts/.13.
Conflict of Interest
John Whalen, Sheldon Yao, and Adena Leder declare no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Topical Collection on Hot Topics in Pain and Headache
About this article
Cite this article
Whalen, J., Yao, S. & Leder, A. A Short Review of the Treatment of Headaches Using Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment. Curr Pain Headache Rep 22, 82 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-018-0736-y
- Osteopathic manipulative treatment