Specific strength training compared with interdisciplinary counseling for girls with tension-type headache: a randomized controlled trial

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Specific strength training compared with interdisciplinary counseling for girls with tension-type headache: a randomized controlled trial
Key Take-Away: 

Due to strength training and interdisciplinary counseling, a statistically significant and clinically important reduction in headache frequency and duration was observed in this research The moderate strength training program has a capability to render key changes in physical capability both in terms of adjusting muscle balance and enhancing shoulder strength and VO2max, leading to decrease in the headache and health improvements. 

Childhood tension-type headache (TTH) is a prevalent and debilitating condition for the child and family. 

ABSTRACT: 
Background: 

Childhood tension-type headache (TTH) is a prevalent and debilitating condition for the child and family.

Low-cost non pharmacological treatments are usually the first choice of professionals and parents. This study examined the outcomes of specific strength training for girls with TTH.

Methods: 

Forty-nine girls aged 9–18 years with TTH were randomized to patient education programs with 10 weeks of strength training and compared with those who were counseled by a nurse and physical therapist.

Primary outcomes were headache frequency, intensity, and duration; secondary outcomes were neck–shoulder muscle strength, aerobic power, and pericranial tenderness, measured at baseline, after 10 week intervention, and at 12 weeks follow-up. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaires were assessed at baseline and after 24 months.

Results: 

For both groups, headache frequency decreased significantly, P=0.001, as did duration, P=0.022, with no significant between-group differences. The odds of having headache on a random day decreased over the 22 weeks by 0.65 (0.50–0.84) (odds ratio [95% confidence interval]).

For both groups, neck extension strength decreased significantly with a decrease in cervicothoracic extension/flexion ratio to 1.7, indicating a positive change in muscle balance. In the training group, shoulder strength increased ≥10% in 5/20 girls and predicted VO2max increased ≥15% for 4/20 girls. In the training group, 50% of girls with a headache reduction of ≥30% had an increase in VO2max >5%. For the counseling group, this was the case for 29%. A 24-month follow-up on HRQOL for the pooled sample revealed statistically significant improvements. Fifty-five percent of the girls reported little to none disability.

Conclusion: 

The results indicate that both physical health and HRQOL can be influenced significantly by physical exercise and nurse counseling.

More research is needed to examine the relationship between physical exercise, VO2max, and TTH in girls. Thus, empowering patient education to promote maximum possible outcomes for all children needs more attention.

J Pain Res. 2016 May 4;9:257-70
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