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Pain sensitivity and pericranial tenderness in children with tension-type headache: a controlled study

Authors Soee AL, Skov L, Kreiner S, Tornoe B, Thomsen LL

Received 17 January 2013

Accepted for publication 15 February 2013

Published 6 June 2013 Volume 2013:6 Pages 425—434


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

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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