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Expert Rev Neurother. 2017 Sep;17(9):933-939. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2017.1359088. Epub 2017 Jul 26.

Improving understanding of trigger points and widespread pressure pain sensitivity in tension-type headache patients: clinical implications.

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a Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation , Universidad Rey Juan Carlos , Alcorcón , Spain.
b Cátedra de Investigación y Docencia en Fisioterapia: Terapia Manual y Punción Seca , Universidad Rey Juan Carlos , Alcorcón , Spain.
c Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction (SMI), Department of Health Science and Technology, Faculty of Medicine , Aalborg University , Aalborg , Denmark.


The underlying etiology of tension type headache (TTH) is not understood. The current paper highlights the etiologic role of muscle trigger points (TrPs) to the development and maintenance of central sensitization in TTH and its clinical repercussion for proper management of these patients. Areas covered: A literature search on Pub Med for English-language published papers between 1990 and May 2017 to provide the most updated data on the topic was conducted. Current literature suggests that the referred pain elicited by active trigger points (TrPs) contributes to the manifestations of TTH. There is also evidence supporting that TrPs represent a peripheral source of nociception and thereby a driver in the development of central sensitization. In fact, TrPs have been found to be associated with widespread pressure pain sensitivity in TTH. Temporal and spatial summation of TrP nociception suggests that inactivating TrP in the neck, head and shoulder muscles could help these patients; however, current evidence supporting the therapeutic role of TrPs in TTH is conflicting. Expert commentary: Understanding the role of TrPs in TTH in widespread pain sensitization may help to develop better management regimes and possibly prevent TTH from developing into more chronic conditions.


Trigger point; central sensitization; clinical implications; pressure pain; referred pain; tension type headache

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