Identification of subgroups of patients with different levels of sensitization and clinical features can help to identify groups at risk and the development of better therapeutic strategies. The aim of this study was to identify subgroups of patients with tension type headache (TTH) with different levels of sensitization, clinical pain features, and psychological outcomes.
A total of 197 individuals with TTH participated. Headache intensity, frequency, and duration and medication intake were collected with a 4-weeks diary. Pressure pain thresholds were assessed bilaterally over the temporalis muscle, C5-C6 joint, second metacarpal and tibialis anterior muscle to determine widespread pressure pain hyperalgesia. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale assessed anxiety and depression. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory evaluated the state and trait levels of anxiety. The Headache Disability Inventory evaluated the burden of headache. Health-related quality of life was determined with the SF-36 questionnaire. Groups were considered as positive (three or more criteria) or negative (less than three criteria) on a clinical prediction rule: headache duration <8.5 h/day; headache frequency <5.5 days/week; bodily pain <47 and vitality <47.5.
The ANCOVA revealed that subjects in group 1 (positive rule, n = 89) exhibited longer headache history, shorter headache duration, lower headache frequency, higher widespread pressure hyperalgesia, higher anxiety trait levels, and lower quality of life (all, P < 0.01) than those subjects within group 2 (negative rule, n = 108). Differences were similar between men and women.
This study identified a subgroup of patients with TTH with higher sensitization, higher chronicity of headaches and worse quality of life but lower frequency and duration of headache episodes. This subgroup of individuals with TTH may need particular attention and specific therapeutic programs for avoiding potential chronification.
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- Identification of subgroups of patients with tension type headache with higher widespread pressure pain hyperalgesia
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