Fluctuations in local and widespread mechanical sensitivity throughout the migraine cycle: a prospective longitudinal study

Gwendolyne G.M. Scholten-Peeters, Michel W. Coppieters, Tom S.C. Durge, René F. Castien

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BACKGROUND: People with migraine have localised (i.e., cephalic) mechanical sensitivity. There is uncertainty regarding widespread (i.e., extra-cephalic) mechanical sensitivity and variations in mechanical sensitivity throughout the migraine cycle. Therefore, this study aimed (1) to comprehensively assess mechanical sensitivity in both cephalic and extra-cephalic regions during the preictal, ictal, postictal and interictal phases; and (2) to compare these findings with mechanical sensitivity at corresponding time-points and locations in healthy participants. METHODS: According to sample size calculations, 19 people with migraine and 19 matched healthy volunteers participated in a prospective longitudinal study. Pressure pain thresholds were evaluated in three cephalic regions (temporalis, upper trapezius and C1 paraspinal muscles) and two extra-cephalic regions (extensor carpi radialis and tibialis anterior muscle) with a digital algometer during the four phases of the migraine cycle in people with migraine and at corresponding intervals and locations in healthy participants. Linear mixed model analyses with a random intercept were used. RESULTS: People with migraine had increased mechanical sensitivity in cephalic and extra-cephalic regions in all phases of the migraine cycle compared to healthy participants. Furthermore, this mechanical sensitivity was more severe in the preictal, ictal and postictal phase compared to the interictal phase in cephalic and extra-cephalic regions. CONCLUSION: People with migraine have localised as well as widespread mechanical sensitivity compared to healthy participants. This sensitivity is even more pronounced immediately before, during and after a migraine attack.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages1
JournalThe journal of headache and pain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2020


  • Allodynia
  • Central sensitization
  • Disability
  • Headache
  • Musculoskeletal health
  • Pain medicine
  • Pain sciences
  • Rehabilitation

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