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Musculoskeletal Abnormalities in Chronic Headache: A Controlled Comparison of Headache Diagnostic Groups

Musculoskeletal Abnormalities in Chronic Headache: A Controlled Comparison of Headache Diagnostic Groups

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SOURCE:   Headache. 1999 (Jan);   39 (1):   21–27

Marcus DA, Scharff L, Mercer S, Turk DC.

Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh (Penn) School of Medicine, USA.


The presence of postural, myofascial, and mechanical abnormalities in patients with migraine, tension-type headache, or both headache diagnoses was compared to a headache-free control sample. Twenty-four control subjects were obtained from a convenience sampling and each was matched by age and sex to three patients with headache (one with migraine [with or without aura], one with tension-type headache, and one with diagnoses of both migraine and tension-type headache [combined diagnosis]) who had been previously assessed by a physical therapist at a headache clinic. Physical therapy assessment findings were compared among the four groups.

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There was a significant difference in the presence of postural abnormalities between the controls and the patients, with posture abnormalities more likely to be present in those with headache. The patients were also significantly more likely to have active trigger points and trigger points in the neck than were the control subjects.

There were no significant group differences identified in the mechanical measures, nor were there any significant differences among the three headache categories. Determination of the clinical significance of these musculoskeletal abnormalities in patients with headache will require the development and testing of further standardized assessments as well as physical therapy treatment programs.

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