Does exercise therapy improve headache? A systematic review with meta-analysis

James Fricton, Ana Velly, Wei Ouyang, John O. Look

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Therapeutic exercise is one of the most common physical medicine treatments and is recommended by many clinicians for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Many forms of therapeutic exercise have been evaluated and described in the scientifi c literature, including range of motion, isometric, postural, relaxation, strengthening, and aerobic. They are designed to stretch, relax, and improve posture and strength of the muscles, with the goal of improving tenderness, pain, function, and health [17]. However, the use of exercise to manage headaches is low, perhaps because of the lack of understanding of the effectiveness and mechanism of exercise for headache disorders such as tension-type headache (TTH). Yet, a number of studies have examined exercise to improve both TTH and temporomandibular disorder (TMD) muscle pain, which can provide us some answers. This commentary presents the results of a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that help shed light on whether exercise will improve headache and TMD muscle pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent pain and headache reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported in part by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s TMJ Implant Registry and Repository (NIH/NIDCR Contract #N01-De-22635).


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