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Headache. 2011 Mar;51(3):384-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2010.01791.x. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Bilateral widespread mechanical pain hypersensitivity as sign of central sensitization in patients with cluster headache.

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1
Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate bilateral widespread pressure pain hyperalgesia in deep tissues over symptomatic (trigemino-cervical) and nonsymptomatic (distant pain-free) regions in patients with cluster headache (CH).

BACKGROUND:

Central sensitization is claimed to play a relevant role in CH. No study has previously searched for widespread pressure hyperalgesia in deep tissues over both symptomatic (trigemino-cervical) and nonsymptomatic (distant pain-free) regions in patients with CH.

METHODS:

Sixteen men (mean age: 43 ± 11 years) with CH in a remission phase and 16 matched controls were recruited. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) were bilaterally measured over the supra-orbital (V1), infra-orbital (V2), mental (V3), median (C5), radial (C6), and ulnar (C7) nerves, C5-C6 zygapophyseal joint, mastoid process, and tibialis anterior muscle by an assessor blinded to the subjects' condition.

RESULTS:

The results showed that PPT levels were significantly decreased bilaterally in patients with CH as compared with healthy controls (all sites, P < .001). A greater degree of sensitization over the mastoid process (P < .001) and a lower degree of sensitization over the tibialis anterior muscle (P < .01) was found.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings revealed bilateral widespread pressure pain hypersensitivity in patients with CH confirming the presence of central sensitization mechanisms in this headache condition.

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