Pain sensitivity and pericranial tenderness in children with tension-type headache: a controlled study
Ann-Britt L Soee,1 Liselotte Skov,1 Svend Kreiner,4 Birte Tornoe,1,2 Lise L Thomsen3
1Department of Paediatrics, Children's Headache Clinic, Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Copenhagen, Denmark; 2Department of Physiotherapy, Medical Department O, Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Copenhagen, Denmark; 3Department of Neuropediatrics, Juliane Marie Centre, Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen Denmark; 4Department of Biostatistics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Purpose: To compare tenderness and pain sensitivity in children (aged 7–17 years) with tension-type headache (TTH) and healthy controls using total tenderness score (TTS), pressure pain threshold (PPT), and pain perceived at suprapressure pain threshold (supraPPT).
Patients and methods: Twenty-three children with frequent episodic TTH, 36 with chronic TTH, and 57 healthy controls were included. TTS was measured bilaterally at seven pericranial myofascial structures. PPT and supraPPT were assessed in the finger, m. temporalis, and m. trapezius by a Somedic® algometer. SupraPPT was defined as the pain perceived at a stimulus calculated as the individual site-specific PPT + 50%.
Statistics: The effect of group, sex, age, headache frequency, intensity, and years on TTS, PPT, and supraPPT was analyzed by general linear models. Confirmatory factor analysis was analyzed for mutual relations between measurements.
Results and conclusion: Tenderness increased uniformly in both frequent episodic TTH (median 14; interquartile range [IQR] 10–18; P < 0.001) and chronic TTH (median 13; IQR 9–20; P < 0.001) compared to controls (median 5, IQR 3–11). However, the children with frequent episodic TTH and chronic TTH did not show significantly increased sensitivity when measured by PPT or supraPPT. Factor analysis confirmed that the site-specific measurements depended on general latent variables. Consequently, the PPT and supraPPT tests can be assumed to measure central pain-processing levels.
Keywords: sensitization, pain measurement, total tenderness score, pressure pain threshold, pathophysiological mechanisms, suprathreshold stimulation
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