From the Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain (Dr. Fernández-de-las-Peñas); Esthesiology Laboratory of Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain (Drs. Fernández-de-las-Peñas, Cuadrado, and Pareja); and Department of Neurology of Fundación Hospital Alcorcón and Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain (Drs. Cuadrado and Pareja).
Myofascial Trigger Points, Neck Mobility, and Forward Head Posture in Episodic Tension-Type Headache
Article first published online: 17 NOV 2006
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain
Volume 47, Issue 5, pages 662–672, May 2007
How to Cite
Fernández-de-las-Peñas, C., Cuadrado, M. L. and Pareja, J. A. (2007), Myofascial Trigger Points, Neck Mobility, and Forward Head Posture in Episodic Tension-Type Headache. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 47: 662–672. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00632.x
- Issue published online: 17 NOV 2006
- Article first published online: 17 NOV 2006
- Accepted for publication July 25, 2006.
- tension-type headache;
- myofascial trigger points;
- upper trapezius muscle;
- sternocleidomastoid muscle;
- temporalis muscle;
- neck mobility;
- forward head posture
Objective.—To assess the differences in the presence of trigger points (TrPs) in head and neck muscles, forward head posture (FHP) and neck mobility between episodic tension-type headache (ETTH) subjects and healthy controls. In addition, we assess the relationship between these muscle TrPs, FHP, neck mobility, and several clinical variables concerning the intensity and the temporal profile of headache.
Background.—TTH is a headache in which musculoskeletal disorders of the craniocervical region might play an important role in its pathogenesis.
Design.—A blinded, controlled pilot study.
Methods.—Fifteen ETTH subjects and 15 matched controls without headache were studied. TrPs in both upper trapezius, both sternocleidomastoids, and both temporalis muscles were identified according to Simons and Gerwin diagnostic criteria (tenderness in a hypersensible spot within a palpable taut band, local twitch response elicited by snapping palpation, and elicited referred pain with palpation). Side-view pictures of each subject were taken in both sitting and standing positions, in order to assess FHP by measuring the craniovertebral angle. A cervical goniometer was employed to measure neck mobility. All measures were taken by a blinded assessor. A headache diary was kept for 4 weeks in order to assess headache intensity, frequency, and duration.
Results.—The mean number of TrPs for each ETTH subject was 3.7 (SD: 1.3), of which 1.9 (SD: 0.9) were active, and 1.8 (SD: 0.9) were latent. Control subjects only had latent TrPs (mean: 1.5; SD: 1). TrP occurrence between the 2 groups was significantly different for active TrPs (P < .001), but not for latent TrPs (P > .05). Differences in the distribution of TrPs were significant for the right upper trapezius muscles (P= .04), the left sternocleidomastoid (P= .03), and both temporalis muscles (P < .001). Within the ETTH group, headache intensity, frequency, and duration outcomes did not differ depending on TrP activity, whether the TrP was active or latent. The craniovertebral angle was smaller, ie, there was a greater FHP, in ETTH patients than in healthy controls for both sitting and standing positions (P < .05). ETTH subjects with active TrPs in the analyzed muscles had a greater FHP than those with latent TrPs in both sitting and standing positions, though differences were only significant for certain muscles. Finally, ETTH patients also showed lesser neck mobility than healthy controls in the total range of motion as well as in half-cycles (except for cervical extension), although neck mobility did not seem to influence headache parameters.
Conclusions.—Active TrPs in the upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, and temporalis muscles were more common in ETTH subjects than in healthy controls, although TrP activity was not related to any clinical variable concerning the intensity and the temporal profile of headache. ETTH patients showed greater FHP and lesser neck mobility than healthy controls, although both disorders were not correlated with headache parameters.