Objective.—To investigate the mechanisms behind the increase of chronic tension-type headache during head-down tilt.
Background.—The pathophysiology of chronic tension-type headache is unknown.
Design and Methods.—Ten patients suffering from chronic tension-type headache and 10 age- and sex-matched controls were studied with respect to pain intensity and alterations in cranial blood volume using planar scintigraphy and radiolabeled autologous erythrocytes before, during, and after head-down tilt, a procedure known to increase chronic tension-type headache.
Results.—Four of 8 patients with chronic tension-type headache studied had increased cerebrospinal fluid pressure. During head-down tilt, the pain increased significantly in the group with chronic tension-type headache (P < .001) while the procedure did not cause headache in the controls. Blood volume significantly increased extracranially and decreased intracranially in both groups during head-down tilt. The extracranial nasal blood volume was significantly related to the pain experienced by the patients with chronic tension-type headache before and during head-down tilt.
Conclusions.—Although the changes in blood volume and, presumably, the increase of intracranial pressure were similar in the patients with chronic tension-type headache and the controls, only the patients experienced pain and pain increase during head-down tilt. This indicates that the pre-head-down tilt conditions must be different in the 2 groups and should be related to increased cerebrospinal fluid pressure/intracranial venous pressure in patients with chronic tension-type headache compared with controls. A difference in central mechanisms may, however, also be of importance for the difference in headache provocation in the 2 groups during head-down tilt.