Aims: To assess the effectiveness of a variety of physical treatments in the management of tension-type headache (TTH) in children.
Methods: This review is reported in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines and was registered in the PROSPERO database (CRD42014015290). Randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials that examined the effects of all treatments with a physical component in the management of TTH in children and compared these treatments to a placebo intervention, no intervention, or a controlled comparison intervention were included. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) criteria for bias assessment and the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) Working Group criteria were used to assess the quality of the body of evidence. The outcome measures were pain, functioning, and quality of life. Only RCTs were included in the meta-analyses.
Results: An initial search produced 10,464 published articles. Of these, 17 were relevant trials, including 1,815 participants. The overall GRADE rating of the included studies was moderate, and 11 of the 17 studies could be used in the meta-analyses. The effectiveness of physical treatments in terms of a reduction of pain of 50% or more showed a risk ratio (RR) of 2.37 (95% CI: 1.69 to 3.33). Relaxation training was the most evaluated intervention and proved to be significantly effective (RR: 3.00 [95% CI: 1.94 to 4.63]). In children having TTH combined with temporomandibular disorders, occlusal appliances were effective (RR: 2.58 [95% CI: 1.37 to 4.85]).
Conclusion: This review supports the use of physical treatments to reduce pain in children with TTH.