Spatial Distribution of Temporalis Pressure Pain Sensitivity in Men with Episodic Cluster Headache

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Background: Spatial changes in pressure sensitivity have been described in migraine and tension-type headaches. Our aim was to determine differences in the spatial distribution of pressure pain sensitivity of the temporalis muscle between cluster headache (CH) patients and headache-free controls. Methods: Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) were determined over nine points covering the temporalis muscle in 40 men with episodic CH and 40 matched headache-free controls in a blinded fashion. Topographical pressure pain sensitivity maps were constructed based on interpolation of the PPTs. Patients were evaluated in a pain-free period (remission phase), at least 3 months from the last attack and without medication. Results: The analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) found significant difference between points (F = 21.887; P < 0.001) and groups (F = 24.416; P = 0.602), but not between sides (F = 0.440; P = 0.508). No effect of depression (F = 0.014; P = 0.907) or anxiety (F = 0.696; F = 0.407) was observed. A post-hoc analysis revealed: 1) lower PPTs at all points in patients than in controls, 2) an anterior-to-posterior gradient in patients but not in controls, with lower PPTs located in the anterior column. Large between-groups effects were shown in all points (standardized mean difference, SMD > 0.8). Conclusions: Bilateral pressure pain hypersensitivity to pressure pain in the temporalis muscle and an anterior-to-posterior gradient to pressure pain was observed in men with episodic CH.s.
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