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Pain. 2004 Nov;112(1-2):59-64.

Muscle tenderness in different headache types and its relation to anxiety and depression.

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  • 1Section Headache-Facial Pain, Department of Clinical Pathophysiology, University of Turin, 14 Corso Dogliotti, I-10126 Torino, Italy.


To assess in patients with migraine and tension type headache, both episodic and chronic, the extent to which muscle tenderness may relate to anxiety and depression, 459 patients with Episodic Migraine (EM, 125), Chronic Migraine (CM, 97), Episodic Tension Type Headache (ETTH, 82), Chronic Tension Type Headache (CTTH, 83), and EM+ETTH (72) were enrolled. For each patient, a psychological assessment on the Axis 1 of the DSM-IV and muscle palpation of pericranial and cervical muscles were carried out. A Pericranial Muscle Tenderness Score (PTS) and a Cervical Muscle Tenderness Score (CTS) were calculated (range 0-3). Logistic and linear regression analyses were employed to assess relations between muscle tenderness, the demographic variables and psychiatric disorders in the different patient groups. Odds ratio for 'male gender' was higher in groups with tension type headache. Only EM patients showed a positive association with increasing age. Anxiety and depression were significantly associated to CM. A significant negative correlation of PTS and CTS was observed in EM patients. In relation to male gender, the PTS was significantly lower in EM, ETTH and CTTH; CTS was significantly lower in EM, CM, and CTTH. Anxiety and, even more, anxiety and depression combined were positively associated to higher PTS and CTS in EM patients. Anxiety and depression were also positively associated to higher CTS in patients with EM+ETTH. In CTTH patients, PTS only was positively associated to anxiety and depression. We conclude that in patients with EM, the presence of anxiety or anxiety and depression combined considerably increases the level of muscle tenderness in the head and, even more, in the neck, and might facilitate the evolution into CM.

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