As discussed in a previous blog post, it is estimated that 47% of the world’s population has a headache at least once a year. For many of my patients, headaches are something that happen either a few times a month, week or even daily in some cases. Although massage therapy treatment, chiropractic, athletic therapy and physiotherapy are great options and may have success, many people are unaware of the positive impact that Osteopathic Manual Therapy can have on headaches.

A systematic review was published in March of 2017 looking at Osteopathy for primary headache patients (Cerritelli et al., 2017). A systematic review collects the results of all studies that have been done on a specific topic, analyzes the data and summarizes the existing research. As a result, they are beneficial to look at when generating a research based opinion.

Role of Osteopathy on Headaches

Primary headaches are considered to be a headache that is due to a headache condition itself opposed to another cause (such as sinus headaches). The types of primary headaches are migraines, tension headaches and cluster headaches. The review concluded that the positive effect that osteopathy has on headaches could be related to osteopathy’s influence on the autonomic nervous system. More specifically, it plays a role in increasing a patient’s parasympathetic tone (muscles in a relaxed state) and decreases inflammatory substances in the body.

The main outcomes seen in the studies reviewed were that Osteopathy was effective in reducing the number of migraine episodes in a 6-month period, there was significantly improved pain scores (less pain with migraine), lower frequency of headaches resulting in the reduction of medication use over time, and a significant increase in the number of headache-free days per week.

In conclusion, the review suggests that Osteopathic treatment can reduce both the frequency and severity of future headaches. Additionally, it is beneficial in the management of headaches. So, YES, osteopathic treatment can also help get you relief from headaches and manage your headache pain.

To inquire more about osteopathy, headaches and how osteopathy may benefit you, or if you have specific questions you can contact, or

By: Sarah Shaw RMT, 3rd Year Student at Canadian College of Osteopathy