Objectives: To investigate differences in pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) and longitudinal mechanosensitivity of the greater occipital nerve (GON) between patients with side-dominant head and neck pain (SDHNP) and healthy controls. Evaluation of neural sensitivity is not a standard procedure in the physical examination of headache patients but may influence treatment decisions. Methods: Two blinded investigators evaluated PPTs on two different locations bilaterally over the GON as well as the occipitalis longsitting-slump (OLSS) in subjects with SDHNP (n = 38)) and healthy controls (n = 38). Results: Pressure pain sensitivity of the GON was lower at the occiput in patients compared to controls (p = 0.001). Differences in pressure sensitivity of the GON at the nucheal line, or between the dominant headache side and the non-dominant side were not found (p > 0.05). The OLSS showed significant higher pain intensity in SDHNP (p < 0.001). In comparison to the non-dominant side, the dominant side was significantly more sensitive (p = 0.004). Discussion: Palpation of the GON at the occiput and the OLSS may be potentially relevant tests in SDHNP. One explanation for an increased bilateral sensitivity may be sensitization mechanisms. Future research should investigate the efficacy of neurodynamic techniques directed at the GON. Level of Evidence: 3b.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)