Has aerobic exercise effect on pain perception in persons with migraine and coexisting tension-type headache and neck pain? A randomized, controlled, clinical trial

L S Krøll, C Sjödahl Hammarlund, G Gard, R H Jensen, L Bendtsen

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: A large subset of persons with migraine suffers from coexisting tension-type headache and neck pain which may adversely affect the prognosis of migraine. Aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease migraine burden in these persons. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether the effect of aerobic exercise in persons with migraine and coexisting tension-type headache and neck pain can be explained by changes in pain perception.

METHOD: Seventy consecutively recruited persons with migraine and coexisting tension-type headache and neck pain were randomized into exercise group or control group. Aerobic exercise consisted of bike/cross-trainer/brisk walking for 45 min, three times/week for 3 months. Controls continued their usual daily activities. Pericranial tenderness, pain thresholds, supra-thresholds and temporal summation were assessed at baseline, after treatment and at follow-up (6 months from baseline).

RESULTS: Fifty-two persons with migraine and coexisting tension-type headache and neck pain completed the study. Aerobic exercise did not induce consistent changes in nociceptive pathways measured by pericranial tenderness, pressure pain thresholds and sensitivity to electrical stimulation.

CONCLUSION: The effect of aerobic exercise cannot be explained by measurable effects on the pain modulation system. Thus, the positive effect on migraine burden may rather be explained by positive alteration of avoidance behaviour. Aerobic exercise can be recommended as a safe and inexpensive migraine treatment strategy.

SIGNIFICANCE: This study adds further knowledge about the positive effect of aerobic exercise for persons with migraine and coexisting tension-type headache and neck pain. This effect cannot be measured by changes in pain modulation, but may rather be explained by positive alteration of avoidance behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of pain
Volume22
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1399-1408
Number of pages10
ISSN1090-3801
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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