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Trigger point therapy helped a few chronic cluster headache patients, case series

updated

Tags: headache, chronic pain, muscle pain, head, head/neck, pain problems, muscle

Three articles on PainSci cite Calandre 2008: (1) Massage Therapy for Tension Headaches(2) The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain(3) The Complete Guide to Neck Pain & Cricks

PainSci summary of Calandre 2008: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible.

Although this research was “preliminary and uncontrolled” and is not powerful enough to prove anything, its results were certainly noteworthy — the sort of results that can inspire more research, hopefully. All of 12 patients with chronic cluster headaches (a kind of severe primary headache, nicknamed “suicide headaches”) had myofascial trigger points, and treating them (with injection) produced “significant improvement in 7 of the 8 chronic cluster patients.” The authors speculate that trigger points are not the cause of cluster headaches, but a nasty complicating factor: “chronic pain or repeated acute pain sensitize muscular nociceptors creating active trigger points which, in turn, contribute to potentiate headache pain. This kind of vicious cycle explains why the number of active trigger points has been found to be higher in patients with chronic primary headaches than in healthy subjects or in patients experiencing less frequent headache attacks.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Active myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) have been found to contribute to chronic tension-type headache and migraine. The purpose of this case series was to examine if active trigger points (TrPs) provoking cluster-type referred pain could be found in cluster headache patients and, if so, to evaluate the effectiveness of active TrPs anaesthetic injections both in the acute and preventive headache's treatment. Twelve patients, 4 experiencing episodic and 8 chronic cluster headache, were studied. TrPs were found in all of them. Abortive infiltrations could be done in 2 episodic and 4 chronic patients, and preemptive infiltrations could be done in 2 episodic and 5 chronic patients, both kind of interventions being successful in 5 (83.3%) and in 6 (85.7%) of the cases respectively. When combined with prophylactic drug therapy, injections were associated with significant improvement in 7 of the 8 chronic cluster patients. Our data suggest that peripheral sensitization may play a role in cluster headache pathophysiology and that first neuron afferent blockade can be useful in cluster headache management.

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