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

Rev Neurol. 2012 Aug 16;55(4):193-9.
[Article in Spanish]


INTRODUCTION. The referred pain induced by myofascial trigger points (MTP) and sleep disorders can be factors that contribute to chronic tension-type headache. AIM. To determine the relationship between MTP, intensity of pain, disability and quality of sleep in people with chronic tension-type headache. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. 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. RESULTS. 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. CONCLUSIONS. 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.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / complications
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Palpation
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Pilot Projects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sleep Disorders, Intrinsic / complications
  • Sleep Disorders, Intrinsic / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tension-Type Headache / etiology
  • Tension-Type Headache / physiopathology*
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*