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Rev Neurol. 2012 Aug 16;55(4):193-9.

[Myofascial trigger points, pain, disability and quality of sleep in patients with chronic tension-type headache: a pilot study].

[Article in Spanish]

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Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, 28922 Alcorcon, Espana.



The referred pain induced by myofascial trigger points (MTP) and sleep disorders can be factors that contribute to chronic tension-type headache.


To determine the relationship between MTP, intensity of pain, disability and quality of sleep in people with chronic tension-type headache.


Participants in the study consisted of 16 patients with chronic tension-type headache and 15 healthy controls. A visual analogue scale was used to measure the intensity of the pain, and the neck disability questionnaire and the Pittsburgh (quality of sleep) questionnaire were also employed. MTP were explored in the temporal, masseter, upper trapezius, suboccipital, sternocleidomastoid, splenius capitis, semispinalis capitis and anterior digastric muscles by a blind evaluator.


The subjects with chronic tension-type headache had greater cervical disability (p < 0.001) than the controls, whereas the quality of sleep showed a tendency (p = 0.092). A positive correlation was found between the worst pain last week with the Pittsburgh questionnaire (r = 0.631; p = 0.009) and disability (r = 0.521; p = 0.046), as well as a positive correlation between disability and quality of sleep (r = 0.815; p < 0.001). The patients with headache displayed a higher number of MTP than the healthy controls (p < 0.001), the presence of active MTP being found exclusively in the patients. No association was found between the number of MTP and intensity of pain, disability or quality of sleep.


Quality of sleep and active MTP can be different factors contributing to chronic tension-type headache. Nevertheless, the presence of MTP could also be an epiphenomenon of the pain.

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