Perceived Pain Extent is Not Associated With Widespread Pressure Pain Sensitivity, Clinical Features, Related Disability, Anxiety, or Depression in Women With Episodic Migraine

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People with migraine present with varying pain extent and an expanded distribution of perceived pain may reflect central sensitization. The relationship between pain extent and clinical features, psychological outcomes, related disability, and pressure pain sensitivity in migraine has been poorly investigated. Our aim was to investigate whether the perceived pain extent, assessed from pain drawings, relates to measures of pressure pain sensitivity, clinical, psychological outcomes, and related disability in women with episodic migraine.


A total of 72 women with episodic migraine completed pain drawings, which were subsequently digitized allowing pain extent to be calculated utilising novel software. Pressure pain thresholds were assessed bilaterally over the temporalis muscle (trigeminal area), the cervical spine (extratrigeminal area), and tibialis anterior muscle (distant pain-free area). Clinical features of migraine, migraine-related disability (migraine disability assessment questionnaire [MIDAS]), and anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety-Depression Scale [HADS]) were also assessed. Spearman ρ correlation coefficients were computed to reveal correlations between pain extent and the remaining outcomes.


No significant associations were observed between pain extent and pressure pain thresholds in trigeminal, extratrigeminal or distant pain-free areas, migraine pain features, or psychological variables including anxiety or depression, and migraine-related disability.


Pain extent within the trigeminocervical area was not associated with any of the measured clinical outcomes and not related to the degree of pressure pain sensitization in women with episodic migraine. Further research is needed to determine if the presence of expanded pain areas outside of the trigeminal area can play a relevant role in the sensitization processes in migraine.

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