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MyoTPoints in Migraine:The Link Between Myofascial Trigger Points and Migraine


Migraine is a complex and debilitating neurological disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. While its exact cause remains elusive, researchers have been exploring various contributing factors. One area of growing interest is the role of myofascial trigger points in the development and progression of migraines. Myofascial trigger points are knots or hyperirritable spots found in skeletal muscles, and their potential involvement in migraine episodes sheds new light on understanding and managing this condition.

Myofascial Trigger Points Explained:

Myofascial trigger points are localized areas of tension within muscle fibers, commonly referred to as "knots." These hyperirritable spots can cause local and referred pain when compressed or irritated. They result from a combination of factors, including muscle overuse, trauma, poor posture, stress, and other physical and emotional triggers. Research has shown that myofascial trigger points can cause a wide range of symptoms, including muscle pain, limited range of motion, and referred pain in seemingly unrelated areas. In the context of migraines, myofascial trigger points' involvement suggests a more intricate relationship between muscular tension and neurological processes.

Myofascial Trigger Points and Migraine Connection:

Recent studies have provided evidence that myofascial trigger points may play a significant role in the onset and exacerbation of migraines. When these trigger points develop in certain muscles, they can create tension and compression on surrounding nerves and blood vessels. This, in turn, can trigger a cascade of events, contributing to migraine episodes in susceptible individuals. The trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles, located in the neck and shoulders, are commonly associated with migraines due to their potential to harbor myofascial trigger points. When these trigger points become active, they can refer pain to the head, temple area, and even behind the eyes, mimicking the symptoms of a migraine attack.

Shared Pathways: Central Sensitization:

The link between myofascial trigger points and migraines extends beyond mechanical compression. Both conditions involve central sensitization, a process where the central nervous system becomes hypersensitive to pain signals. The constant nociceptive input from active trigger points can contribute to this sensitization, making the brain more susceptible to migraine triggers and amplifying pain perception during an attack.

Clinical Evidence:

Several clinical studies have investigated the relationship between myofascial trigger points and migraines. In a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2018), researchers found that patients with chronic migraines had a significantly higher prevalence of active trigger points in the neck and shoulder muscles than control subjects without migraines. Furthermore, a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (2020) demonstrated that trigger point therapy, a form of manual therapy focused on deactivating trigger points, resulted in reduced migraine frequency and intensity in migraine patients.

Implications for Treatment:

The recognition of myofascial trigger points' role in migraines has important implications for treatment and management. Integrating therapies that target these trigger points, such as trigger point release, dry needling, and myofascial massage, may help alleviate muscle tension and reduce the frequency and severity of migraine episodes. Additionally, addressing lifestyle factors that contribute to trigger point development, such as stress management and proper posture, can complement treatment efforts and enhance overall well-being. As researchers continue to explore the intricate relationship between myofascial trigger points and migraines, it becomes evident that these muscular knots play a substantial role in the pathophysiology of this neurological disorder. By acknowledging the link between muscle tension and migraines, healthcare professionals can adopt a more holistic approach to treatment, offering patients new avenues for relief and improved quality of life. References:

  1. Tough EA, White AR, Cummings TM, Campbell JL, Mortensen NJ, "Acupuncture and dry needling in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Eur J Pain. 2009;13(3):249-57.

  2. Gil-Martínez A, Kindelan-Calvo P, Agudo-Carmona D, et al., "Changes in pain sensitivity after dry needling of the trapezius muscle in patients with unilateral migraine. A randomized, controlled, blinded study." Pain Med. 2014;15(5):712-9.

  3. Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C, Ge HY, Arendt-Nielsen L, Cuadrado ML, Pareja JA. "Referred pain from trapezius muscle trigger points shares similar characteristics with chronic tension type headache." Eur J Pain. 2007;11(4):475-82.

  4. Hidalgo-Lozano A, Fernández-de-las-Peñas C, Alonso-Blanco C, Ge HY, Arendt-Nielsen L, Arroyo-Morales M. "Muscle trigger points and pressure pain hyperalgesia in the shoulder muscles in patients with unilateral shoulder impingement: a blinded, controlled study." Exp Brain Res. 2010;202(4):915-25.

  5. Moraska AF, Schmiege SJ, Mann JD, Butryn N, Krutsch JP. "Responsiveness of myofascial trigger points to single and multiple trigger point release massages: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial." Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2017;96(9):639-45.


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