Referred pain after painful stimulation of the greater occipital nerve in humans: evidence of convergence of cervical afferences on trigeminal nuclei

Cephalalgia. 2001 Mar;21(2):107-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-2982.2001.00166.x.


Cranial sensory innervation is supplied mainly by the trigeminal nerves and by the first cervical nerves. Excitatory and inhibitory interactions among those nerve roots may occur in a mechanism called nociceptive convergence, leading to loss of somato-sensory spatial specificity. Three volunteers in an experimental trial had sterile water injected over their greater occipital nerve on one side of the neck. Pain intensity was evaluated 10, 30 and 120 s after the injection. Two of the patients reported intense pain. Trigeminal autonomic features, suggestive of parasympathetic activation, were seen associated with trigeminally distributed pain. These data add to and reinforce previous evidence of convergence of cervical afferents on the trigeminal sensory circuit.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afferent Pathways / physiopathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / innervation*
  • Facial Pain / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Nociceptors / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiopathology*
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / physiopathology*