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Muscle endurance and cervical electromyographic activity during submaximal efforts in women with and without migraine

      Highlights

      • Migraine is associated to reduced cervical flexors endurance time.
      • Reduced cervical flexors endurance may be related to the migraine frequency.
      • Endurance tests induce pain in migraineurs more frequently than controls.

      Abstract

      Background

      Despite previous reports supporting cervical muscle weakness and altered motor control in migraine, the endurance under standardized submaximal loads has not been investigated. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the endurance and muscle activity of the cervical musculature during submaximal isometric contractions in women with migraine and those without headache.

      Methods

      Cervical muscle endurance tests were performed for flexors and extensors at 25%, 50%, and 75% of the output force during maximal isometric contraction using the Multi-Cervical Rehabilitation Unit with customized biofeedback. Initial values and relative rates of changes in root mean square and median frequency were calculated using cervical muscle superficial electromyography.

      Findings

      Women with chronic migraine presented significantly shorter flexor endurance time in all load tests than controls (25%, P = .001, 50%, P = .005; 75%, P = .013), while episodic migraine only differed from controls at 75% (P = .018). The frequency of neck pain and/or pain referred to the head after the endurance test was up 12% in the control group, 40% in the episodic migraine group and 68% of the chronic migraine group. Few differences between groups were observed in the electromyographic variables and none of them was related to a worse performance in the endurance tests.

      Interpretation

      Cervical flexor endurance was reduced in women with chronic migraine when independent of the load, whereas it was reduced to 75% of the maximal force in those with episodic migraine. No difference in the electromyographic variables could be related to this reduced flexor endurance. Also, no differences were detected in extensors endurance.

      Keywords

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