Multiple active myofascial trigger points and pressure pain sensitivity maps in the temporalis muscle are related in women with chronic tension type headache

Clin J Pain. 2009 Jul-Aug;25(6):506-12. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e3181a08747.


Objective: To describe the common locations of active trigger points (TrPs) in the temporalis muscle and their referred pain patterns in chronic tension type headache (CTTH), and to determine if pressure sensitivity maps of this muscle can be used to describe the spatial distribution of active TrPs.

Methods: Forty women with CTTH were included. An electronic pressure algometer was used to assess pressure pain thresholds (PPT) from 9 points over each temporalis muscle: 3 points in the anterior, medial and posterior part, respectively. Both muscles were examined for the presence of active TrPs over each of the 9 points. The referred pain pattern of each active TrP was assessed.

Results: Two-way analysis of variance detected significant differences in mean PPT levels between the measurement points (F=30.3; P<0.001), but not between sides (F=2.1; P=0.2). PPT scores decreased from the posterior to the anterior column (P<0.001). No differences were found in the number of active TrPs (F=0.3; P=0.9) between the dominant side the nondominant side. Significant differences were found in the distribution of the active TrPs (chi2=12.2; P<0.001): active TrPs were mostly found in the anterior column and in the middle of the muscle belly. The analysis of variance did not detect significant differences in the referred pain pattern between active TrPs (F=1.1, P=0.4). The topographical pressure pain sensitivity maps showed the distinct distribution of the TrPs indicated by locations with low PPTs.

Conclusions: Multiple active TrPs in the temporalis muscle were found, particularly in the anterior column and in the middle of the muscle belly. Bilateral posterior to anterior decreased distribution of PPTs in the temporalis muscle in women with CTTH was found. The locations of active TrPs in the temporalis muscle corresponded well to the muscle areas with lower PPT, supporting the relationship between multiple active muscle TrPs and topographical pressure sensitivity maps in the temporalis muscle in women with CTTH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / etiology*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Pain, Referred / etiology
  • Pain, Referred / pathology
  • Pressure*
  • Temporal Muscle / physiopathology*
  • Tension-Type Headache / complications*
  • Tension-Type Headache / pathology*
  • Young Adult