Kinesiophobia in migraine

J Pain. 2006 Jun;7(6):445-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2006.01.449.


Pain aggravation by movement and avoidance of movement (kinesiophobia) is often reported by patients during migraine attacks. Yet its specific contribution to migraine diagnosis is undetermined. To characterize the frequency and severity of kinesiophobia during migraine and its role in the diagnosis of primary headaches, we questioned 150 patients (126 women and 24 men, average age 38.5 yrs) with migraine (n = 111) or tension-type headache (TTH) (n = 39) about aggravation of pain by bending forward, brisk head movements (jolt), and avoidance of movement during the attacks. The degree of pain worsening by each stimulus was measured through a visual analog scale and compared to worsening produced by other sensory stimuli such as light, sound, and smell. The discrimination power of kinesiophobia between migraine and TTH was calculated, using the International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria as gold standard. Sensitivity/specificity of studied symptoms was high in differentiating the 2 headache types: bending forward: 98%/85.7%; jolt: 96.3%/81.6%; and immobility during the attacks: 100%/70%. The degree of kinesiophobia was identical to photo- and phonophobia in migraine patients. We conclude that kinesiophobia discriminates between migraine and TTH. Bending forward and jolt may be useful additional questions to ask patients for the differentiation of headache attacks.

Perspective: This article evaluates the specific role of movement (movement-induced pain aggravation and avoidance of movement) in primary headaches. Kinesophobia is an easy symptom to screen, explained by migraine pathophysiology, and proved to be a sensitive and specific measure to identify migraine attacks when compared to tension-type headache.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology*
  • Movement Disorders / etiology*
  • Movement Disorders / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain Measurement / psychology
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Phobic Disorders / etiology*
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires