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Intramuscular Electrical Stimulation for the Treatment of Trigger Points in Patients with Chronic Migraine: A Protocol for a Pilot Study Using a Single-Case Experimental Design

Medicina (Kaunas). 2023 Jul 28;59(8):1380. doi: 10.3390/medicina59081380.


Background and Objectives: Trigger points (TrPs) are prevalent in patients with migraine headaches. Needling interventions targeting TrPs in migraine patients may reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches, yet systematic reviews reveal a lack of robust evidence. Intramuscular electrical stimulation (IMES) is a modality that delivers electrical current into muscles and TrPs, with recent studies suggesting it may amplify the therapeutic effects of dry needling peripherally and centrally. This could be advantageous for patients with migraine and symptomatic TrPs. Materials and Methods: This study will implement a multiple baseline single-case experimental design (SCED). In a clinical setting, a SCED study lends itself to conducting research with only a few patients that each serve as their own controls. In this SCED study, four participants with chronic migraine will be enrolled in a non-concurrent manner and randomized to one of four baseline measurement periods (4, 5, 6 or 7 weeks), leading to four potentially different start dates for each participant in the intervention phase. During the intervention phase, patients will receive five sessions of dry needling with IMES, one session per week for five weeks. The primary outcome measure will be headache frequency, i.e., the reduction in the number of headache days over a one-month period using electronic headache diary data from the Migraine Buddy smartphone application. Secondary outcome measures will be changes in mean migraine pain intensity using a numeric pain rating scale (NPRS), migraine disability using the Migraine Disability Assessment Test (MIDAS), the Headache Impact Test (HIT-6), and changes in selected cervical musculoskeletal impairments including pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) over TrPs, the craniocervical flexion test (CCFT), and cervical active range of motion (AROM). Primary and secondary outcome measures will be analyzed separately using both visual and statistical analyses. Results: Actively recruiting participants. This project was approved by the Mass General Brigham Institutional Review Board (protocol #2023P000931) and is registered with (NCT05893914). Conclusions: This study will seek to determine the effects of a five-week intervention period of IMES to TrPs in the posterior cervical muscles of subjects with chronic migraine.

PMID:37629671 | DOI:10.3390/medicina59081380


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