Tuesday 6th February 2018

Relief From Chronic Tension Type Headaches


The most common headache is said to be the chronic tension type.    In a study of this type of headache 31 subjects were examined for myofascial trigger points (MTPs) in their cervical, upper trapezius, temporalis and frontalis muscles.  The MTPs were then treated using ischaemic compression and stretching.  This provided complete relief for 52% of subjects.  As a side issue, although over half of these headaches were shown to be caused by MTPs and responded to simple MTP therapy, every single subject the researchers could find had been prescribed and were still on anti-depressant drugs.


According to the background research presented by this study Chronic Tension Type Headaches (CTTHs) are the most common headaches, and scientific studies strongly implicate MTPs as a cause.  To test this the researchers used 31 subjects.  All had experienced at least three days with headaches per week for the past four weeks.   Every single subjects they were able to obtain was currently taking anti-depressant medication (but still had headaches).   The subjects were examined for MTPs in the above muscles.   They were treated using ischaemic compression and stretching.

The results

Short term following treatment the average intensity of headaches improved from 7.28 to 1.65 as measured on a visual analogue scale.  52% obtained complete (short term) relief.

Clinical comments

This data suggests that about half of Chronic Tension Type Headaches are cause by MTPs, and that treatment should address these.  
What causes the other half?  The author suggested without giving a reason that the major other cause may be psychological.  Most chiropractors would include examine for cervical joint dysfunction as well and the presence of MTPs in their examinations.  However, this can be the subject of another research summary.

This issue of all the available subjects already being on anti-depressant medication is one reason why these research summaries are being written.  The more the public and practitioners are informed the less likely it will be that people will be prescribed inappropriate treatments, which can then lead to a range of associated side effects and health issues due to unneeded medications and/or a lack of effective treatment for their primary condition.

The final issue is that the relief of the headaches was measured shortly after the application of therapy. As discussed elsewhere, MTPs have been shown to require a great many applications of therapy over time, then probably require on-going maintenance.  The tremendous time and cost involved by having this done exclusively by therapists makes this impractical for most patients.  The DrGraeme serious hand held massagers for home use are able to be used by patients under professional advice to provide practically unlimited quality massage, making the treatment of MTPs more practical. 

Future articles and sharing

If you found this information useful email us and we will send you further articles as soon as they are available.  If you know of others who may benefit please share.

Samples and practitioner orders

We happily supply sample massagers to degree qualified practitioners who deal with musculoskeletal complaints, on a one per clinic basis.  Please email us directly on graeme@drgraeme.com for samples or practitioner/wholesale supply.


Anand Doraisamy, Magesh & prem kumar & Anshul, Charles & Chandran, Gnanamuthu. (2010). Chronic Tension Type Headache and the Impact of Myofascial Trigger Point Release in the Short Term Relief of Headache. Global Journal of Health Science. 2. . 10.5539/gjhs.v2n2p238.

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About Dr Graeme

Several years ago Dr Graeme, a Chiropractor practicing in Victoria, Australia was looking for a serious hand held massager his patients could use at home to get the extra quality massage they needed. The ones he found in the shops and on-line for home use looked nice but were not serious, and ... read more