Migraine patients’ experiences with and expectations from physiotherapy

Gabriela Carvalho, Rebecca Quinn, Kerstin Luedtke*

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Neck pain is prevalent in migraine and a common reason to receive physiotherapy. There is no information as to the type of modalities patients receive and whether these are perceived as effective and matching expectations. Methods: A survey was designed with closed and open-ended questions allowing for quantitative evaluation and qualitative insights into experiences and expectations. The survey was available online from June–November 2021 and was disseminated in the German migraine league (patient organization) and via social media. Open questions were summarized using qualitative content analysis. Differences between receiving and not receiving physiotherapy were analyzed through Chi2 or Fisher's Test. Categories within groups through Chi2-goodness-of-fit-test and multivariate logistic regression indicated perceived clinical improvement. Results: 149 (123 received physiotherapy) patients completed the questionnaire. Patients receiving physiotherapy had higher pain intensity (p < 0.001) and migraine frequency (p = 0.017). Most participants received 6 sessions or less (38%) (past 12 months) of manual therapy (82%) and soft-tissue techniques (61%). 63% perceived benefits after manual therapy, and 50% after soft-tissue techniques. Logistic regression revealed that ictal and interictal neck pain (OR: 9.12 and 6.41, respectively) and receiving manual therapy (OR: 5.52) are associated with improvement. Mat exercises and higher migraine frequency increased the odds for no improvement or worsening (OR: 0.25 and 0.65, respectively). Expectations included individualized and targeted treatment from a specialized physiotherapist (39%), easier access, more and longer sessions (28%), manual therapy (78%), soft-tissue techniques (72%) and education (26%). Conclusion: sThis first study on migraine patients' views on physiotherapy can serve as insight for researchers for future studies and clinicians to improve future care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102803
JournalMusculoskeletal Science and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 08.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Health Sciences

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-02 Public Health, Health Services Research and Social Medicine
  • 206-07 Clinical Neurology Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology

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