Objective The aim of this project was to evaluate the prevalence and pattern of musculoskeletal dysfunctions in migraine patients using a rigorous methodological approach and validating an international consensus cluster of headache assessment tests. Methods A physiotherapist, blinded towards the diagnosis, examined 138 migraine patients (frequent episodic and chronic), recruited at a specialised headache clinic, and 73 age and gender matched healthy controls following a standardised protocol. Eleven tests, previously identified in an international consensus procedure, were used to evaluate cervical and thoracic musculoskeletal dysfunctions. Results Primary analyses indicated statistically significant differences across groups for the total number of trigger points, flexion-rotation test, thoracic screening, manual joint testing of the upper cervical spine, cranio-cervical flexion test, and reproduction and resolution. Ninety three percent of the assessed patients had at least three musculoskeletal dysfunctions. Post-hoc tests showed significant differences between episodic or chronic migraine patients and healthy controls, but not between migraine groups. Conclusions A standardised set of six physical examination tests showed a high prevalence of musculoskeletal dysfunctions in migraine patients. These dysfunctions support a reciprocal interaction between the trigeminal and the cervical systems as a trait symptom in migraine.
Keywords: Migraine; cervical; joint dysfunction; musculoskeletal; trigger points.