Brain. 2002 Feb;125(Pt 2):320-326
Painful impulses from tender pericranial muscles may play a major role in the pathophysiology of chronic tension-type headache. Firm evidence for peripheral muscle pathology as a cause of muscle pain and chronic headache is still lacking. Using a microdialysis technique, we aimed to estimate in vivo blood flow and interstitial lactate concentrations in the trapezius muscle at rest and during static exercise in patients with chronic tension-type headache and in healthy subjects. We recruited 16 patients with chronic tension-type headache and 17 healthy control subjects. Two microdialysis catheters were inserted into the trapezius muscle (on the non-dominant side) of subjects, and dialysates were collected at rest, 15 and 30 min after the start of static exercise (10% of maximal force) and 15 and 30 min after the exercise was completed. All samples were coded and analysed blind. The primary endpoints were to detect a difference between patients and controls in changes of muscle blood flow and the interstitial lactate concentration from baseline to exercise and post-exercise periods. The increase in muscle blood flow from baseline to exercise and post-exercise periods was significantly lower in patients than controls (P = 0.03). There was no difference in resting blood flow between patients and controls (P = 0.43). Resting interstitial concentration of lactate did not differ between patients (2.51 ± *T0.18 mM; mean ± standard error of the mean) and controls (2.35 ± 0.23 mM, P = 0.57). There was no difference in change in interstitial lactate from baseline to exercise and post-exercise periods between patients and controls (P = 0.38). The present study provides in vivo evidence of decreased blood flow in response to static exercise in a tender muscle in patients with chronic tension-type headache. We suggest that, because of increased excitability of neurones in the CNS, the central interpretation and response to normal sensory input are altered in patients with chronic tension-type headache. This may lead to enhanced sympathetically mediated vasoconstriction and thereby a decreased blood flow in response to static exercise.
Comment: An important study which links decreased blood flow in statically exercised trapezius muscle in patients with chronic tension-type headache (CTTH) with muscle tenderness. A better understanding of the pathophysiology of CTTH may provide a clue to novel therapeutic maneuvers. DSM