Cyclic changes in sensations to painful stimuli in migraine patients

Strupf M, Fraunberger B, Meßlinger K, Namer B (2018)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2018


DOI: 10.1177/0333102418793641


Introduction Migraine is characterized by cycling phases (interictal, preictal, ictal and postictal) with differing symptoms, while in chronic tension type headache pain phases are fluctuating. The question we asked is whether these phases are associated with changes in parameters of somatosensation and axon-reflex erythema. Methods Patients with episodic migraine and chronic tension type headache were examined psychophysically in the interictal, preictal and ictal phase and healthy subjects on five different test days. Thresholds and suprathreshold ratings of pressure and electrical pain were assessed on three different regions of the head. In migraine patients and in healthy controls, electrically induced axon-reflex erythema was measured in the area of the first trigeminal branch. All migraine patients filled out questionnaires about prodromal symptoms at every visit. Results The axon-reflex erythema was always larger in patients with migraine in contrast to healthy subjects. The pressure pain threshold was lower in migraine patients and chronic tension type headache in comparison to healthy subjects. Electrical pain thresholds did not differ between headache patients and healthy subjects and showed no changes between the phases. However, suprathreshold pain ratings showed less habituation solely in the preictal phase of migraine. The number of prodromal symptoms in migraine patients was increased in the preictal and ictal phase. Discussion Reduced habituation was the unique sign of the preictal phase in migraine patients, independently of prodromal symptoms, whereas a larger axon-reflex erythema and higher pressure pain sensitivity are constitutional and non-phase dependent properties of migraine. Reduced inhibitory mechanisms in the preictal phase may contribute to trigger headache attacks in migraine.

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How to cite


Strupf, M., Fraunberger, B., Meßlinger, K., & Namer, B. (2018). Cyclic changes in sensations to painful stimuli in migraine patients. Cephalalgia.


Strupf, Marion, et al. "Cyclic changes in sensations to painful stimuli in migraine patients." Cephalalgia (2018).

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