Effect of soft tissue techniques on headache impact, disability, and quality of life in migraine sufferers: a pilot study

Gemma-Victoria Espí-López, Maria-Arantzazu Ruescas-Nicolau, Cristina Nova-Redondo, Josep C Benítez-Martínez, Pierre-Michel Dugailly, Deborah Falla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of suboccipital inhibitory techniques in people with migraine compared with a control treatment based on myofascial trigger point (MTrP) therapy and stretching.

DESIGN: A randomized, double-blind controlled pilot trial was conducted.

SETTINGS/LOCATION: University research laboratory.

SUBJECTS: Forty-six adults diagnosed with migraine with over 6 months duration.

INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomized to receive either combined MTrP therapy and stretching (control group) or the control treatment plus suboccipital soft tissue inhibition (experimental group). Treatment was applied on four occasions over 8 weeks (one every 15 days), with a duration of 30 minutes per session in the experimental group and 20 min in the control group.

OUTCOME MEASURES: The impact of headache was assessed with the Headache Impact Test (HIT-6), disability by the migraine disability assessment (MIDAS), and quality of life by the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Both groups were assessed at baseline and 1 week immediately after the end of treatment.

RESULTS: The amount of change of the HIT-6 score and MIDAS scores were significantly different between groups (p < 0.05), although the SF-36 scores were not. The change in the HIT-6 score and MIDAS scores was greater in the experimental group. Both groups showed a reduction on the HIT-6 score (p < 0.001), MIDAS scores (p < 0.05), and SF-36 physical subscale, whereas the SF-36 mental subscale improved only in the experimental group (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Soft tissue techniques based on MTrP therapy and stretching were helpful for improving certain aspects of migraine, such as the impact and disability caused by the headache, and the frequency and intensity of headache; however, when combined with suboccipital soft tissue inhibition, the treatment effect was larger.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Early online date30 Apr 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Apr 2018


  • efficacy
  • manual therapy
  • disability
  • migrane
  • impact


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