Tension Headache, Migraine and Cluster Headache

June 22, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

The research clearly shows that the brainstems in tension headache sufferers and migraineurs are sensitised. One of the signs of sensitisation of the brainstem is ‘allodynia’ and therefore is present in tension headache and migraine patients.

What is ‘allodynia’? ‘Allodynia’ refers to excessive tenderness to physical pressure or touch.

Recent, interesting and exciting research has shown that cluster headache sufferers, also present with ‘allodynia’ – suggesting that those who endure cluster headache have sensitised brainstems. This, along with the fact that the ‘triptans’ are also effective in eliminating cluster headache, supports those authorities who suggest that the various types of headache and migraine originate from one condition or disorder – a sensitised brainstem.



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Katsavara Z, Giffin N, Diener HC, Kaube H. Abnormal habituation of ‘nociceptive’ blink reflex in migraine – evidence for increased excitability of trigeminal nociception. Cephalalgia 2003; 23:814-819

Katsavara Z, Lehnerdt G, Duda B, Ellrich J, Diener HC, Kaube H. Sensitization of trigeminal nociception specific for migraine but not pain of sinusitis. Neurology 2002; 59:1450-1453

Kaube H, Katasavara Z, Przywara S, Drepper J, Ellrich J, Diener HC. Acute migraine headache. Possible sensitization of neurons in the spinal trigeminal nucleus? Neurology 2002; 58:1234-1238

Milanov I, Bogdanova D. Trigemino-cervical reflex in patients with headache. Cephalalgia 2003; 23:35-38

Nardone R, Tezzon F. The trigemino-cervical reflex in tension-type headache. European Journal of Neurology 2003; 10(3):307-312

Nardone R et al Trigemino-Cervical Reflex Abnormalities in Patients with Migraine and Cluster Headache. Headache 2008; 48(4):578-585

Riederer F, Selekler HM, Sandor PS, Wober C. Cutaneous allodynia during cluster headache attacks. Cephalalgia 2009; 29:796–798

Rozen TD, Haynes GV, Saper JR, SheftellFD. Abrupt onset and termination of cutaneous allodynia (central sensitization) during attacks of SUNCT. Headache 2005;45:153-155

Sandrini G, Cecchini AB, Milanov I, Tassorelli C, Buzzi MG, Nappi G. Electrophysiological evidence for trigeminal neuron sensitisation in patients with migraine. Neurosci Lett 2002; 317:135-138)

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About dean
Consultant Headache & Migraine Physiotherapist; International Teacher; Director, The Headache Clinic & Watson Headache Institute; PhD Candidate Murdoch University, Western Australia; Adjunct Lecturer, Masters Program, Physiotherapy School, University of South Australia; MAppSc(Res) GradDipAdvManipTher Experienced health practitioners trained in the Watson Headache Approach perform the examination and treatment techniques developed by Dean Watson. These techniques are based on his extensive experience of 7000 headache patients (21,000 hours) over 21 years and are now taught internationally. For your nearest practitioner who has completed training in the ‘Watson Headache Approach’ please refer to the ‘Practitioner Directory’.

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