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Tension-Type Headache Management: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Pain and Therapy 2024 May 16
INTRODUCTION: Tension-type headache (TTH) is common but challenging to manage due to limited effectiveness of conventional treatments. This study examines six complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions through network meta-analysis to identify effective TTH management strategies.

METHODS: We searched PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, OVID, CNKI, Wanfang, VIP, and CBM databases for randomized controlled trials on CAM for TTH treatment. Headache frequency and intensity were the primary outcomes. Methodological quality was evaluated on the basis of the Cochrane risk of bias tool. We used R software to conduct this Bayesian network meta-analysis. We used mean difference (MD) with 95% credible intervals (CI) to calculate the continuous outcomes and analyzed the percentages of the surface under the cumulative ranking (SUCRA) curve.

RESULTS: In total, 32 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with 2405 participants were analyzed. For reducing headache intensity, the network meta-analysis shows that acupuncture therapy combined with traditional Chinese medicine (AT_TCM), manual therapy (MT), psychological treatment (PT), and traditional Chinese medicine combined with acupuncture and manual therapy (TCM_AT_MT) are superior to Western medicine (WM). In the SUCRA curve, TCM_AT_MT is the best for reducing headache frequency (HF).

CONCLUSIONS: This review, assessed as low-quality evidence by GRADE, cautiously suggests potential benefits of PT over other CAM interventions for TTH and indicates TCM_AT_MT might better reduce HF. It proposes that combining CAM interventions could enhance outcomes. Due to the preliminary nature of these findings, further high-quality RCTs are essential to confirm these suggestions and provide clearer clinical guidance.

PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42021252073.

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