BACKGROUND: A central model for chronic tension-type headache (CTH) posits that stress contributes to headache, in part, by aggravating existing hyperalgesia in CTH sufferers. The prediction from this model that pain sensitivity mediates the relationship between stress and headache activity has not yet been examined. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether pain sensitivity mediates the relationship between stress and prospective headache activity in CTH sufferers. Method: Self-reported stress, pain sensitivity and prospective headache activity were measured in 53 CTH sufferers recruited from the general population. Pain sensitivity was modelled as a mediator between stress and headache activity, and tested using a nonparametric bootstrap analysis. RESULTS: Pain sensitivity significantly mediated the relationship between stress and headache intensity. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the present study support the central model for CTH, which posits that stress contributes to headache, in part, by aggravating existing hyperalgesia in CTH sufferers. Implications for the mechanisms and treatment of CTH are discussed.
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- Chronic tension-type headache
- Pain sensitivity