Trigger point therapy helped a few chronic cluster headache patients, case series
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 commentary on 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 wherever 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.
- “Myofascial trigger points in subjects presenting with mechanical neck pain: A blinded, controlled study,” Fernández-de-Las-Peñas et al, Manual Therapy, 2007.
- “Myofascial trigger points and their relationship to headache clinical parameters in chronic tension-type headache,” Fernández-de-Las-Peñas et al, Headache, 2006.
- “Myofascial trigger points in migraine and tension-type headache,” Do et al, J Headache Pain, 2018.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- No long-term effects after a three-week open-label placebo treatment for chronic low back pain: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Kleine-Borgmann 2022 Pain.