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Convergence of cervical and trigeminal sensory afferents


Abstract and Figures

Cranial nociceptive perception shows a distinct topographic distribution, with the trigeminal nerve receiving sensory information from the anterior portions of the head, the greater occipital nerve, and branches of the upper cervical roots in the posterior regions. However, this distribution is not respected during headache attacks, even if the etiology of the headache is specific for only one nerve. Nociceptive information from the trigeminal and cervical territories activates the neurons in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis that extend to the C2 spinal segment and lateral cervical nucleus in the dorsolateral cervical area. These neurons are classified as multimodal because they receive sensory information from more than one afferent type. Clinically, trigeminal activation produces symptoms in the trigeminal and cervical territory and cervical activation produces symptoms in the cervical and trigeminal territory. The overlap between the trigeminal nerve and cervical is known as a convergence mechanism. For some time, convergence mechanisms were thought to be secondary to clinical observations. However, animal studies and clinical evidence have expanded our knowledge of convergence mechanisms. In this paper, the role of convergence mechanisms in nociceptive physiology, physiopathology of the headaches, clinical diagnosis, and therapeutic conduct are reviewed.
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Convergence of Cervical and
Trigeminal Sensory Afferents
Elcio J. Piovesan, MD*, Pedro A. Kowacs, MD, and Michael L. Oshinsky, PhD
*Jorge Manços do Nascimento Teixeira 868, São José dos Pinhais,
83005-500 Brazil.
E-mail: or
Current Pain and Headache Reports 2003, 7:377–383
Current Science Inc. ISSN 1531–3433
Copyright © 2003 by Current Science Inc.
The transmission and modulation of pain in the nervous
system is complex and involves different pathways and
levels of modulation. The activation of nociceptors from
the dura mater and cranial vessels is considered to be the
substrate of pain in primary headaches, such as migraine
and cluster headache [1]. In these headaches, the pain
frequently exceeds trigeminal innervations to the back
of the head, which is territory innervated by the greater
occipital nerve (GON), a branch of the C2 [2]. For exam-
ple, stimulation of the upper cervical roots by posterior
fossa tumors [3], direct cervical roots [3], infratentorial
dura mater [4], and subcutaneous tissue innervated by
the GON [5••] produces frontal head pain. These clinical
features suggested an overlap between trigeminal and
cervical sensory afferents projections in the central nervous
system (CNS), probably in the upper cervical segments
such as the trigeminal nucleus caudalis (TNC).
The meninges and cranial vessels are richly innervated
by nociceptors (C-fibers and α-δ fibers) from the first
division of the trigeminal nerve. Stimulating these fibers
induces the release of neuropeptides, such as substance
P (SP) [6], calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) [7], and
neurokinin A. These neuropeptides induce cell activation
within the medullary dorsal horn of the TNC [8–11] that
extends to the C2 spinal segment [9,10] and within the
dorsolateral area (DLA), which contains the lateral cervical
nucleus (LCN) [12,13]. This activation occurs within the
superficial lamina (I and II) of the TNC, where many of the
afferents synapse on projection neurons to other brain
stem sites or the thalamus [14]. Upper cervical root stimu-
lation (ie, GON manipulation) produces changes in the
TNC [15,16] and LCN [17] neurons. Moreover, the LCN
also receives input from other receptive fields, which
included some parts of the arm and trunk [18]. This is the
reason why some headaches are associated with limb pain
[18]. The authors have described a patient with migraine
who showed recurrent extratrigeminal stabbing and burn-
ing sensation with allodynia on different parts of the body
[19]. These features support the view that the perception of
cranial pain is caused by a functional continuum between
trigeminal and cervical fibers that converge on neurons in
the TNC and upper cervical segments [15]. The TNC also
receives afferents from the autonomic nervous system
(vagus nerve) [20,21] and the hypoglossal nerve [22].
To review this convergence mechanism, the authors
of this paper used published reports of referred pain,
trigeminocervical convergence in clinical studies, animal
research that used headache and other pain models, and
therapeutic responses to blocking the trigeminal afferents
or the GON.
Basic Science Evidence
The evidence for convergence between trigeminal and
cervical nociception in the TNC is from electrophysiologic
studies and other methods of detecting neuronal
Cranial nociceptive perception shows a distinct topo-
graphic distribution, with the trigeminal nerve receiving
sensory information from the anterior portions of the
head, the greater occipital nerve, and branches of the
upper cervical roots in the posterior regions. However,
this distribution is not respected during headache attacks,
even if the etiology of the headache is specific for only one
nerve. Nociceptive information from the trigeminal and
cervical territories activates the neurons in the trigeminal
nucleus caudalis that extend to the C2 spinal segment and
lateral cervical nucleus in the dorsolateral cervical area.
These neurons are classified as multimodal because they
receive sensory information from more than one afferent
type. Clinically, trigeminal activation produces symptoms in
the trigeminal and cervical territory and cervical activation
produces symptoms in the cervical and trigeminal territory.
The overlap between the trigeminal nerve and cervical
is known as a convergence mechanism. For some time,
convergence mechanisms were thought to be secondary
to clinical observations. However, animal studies and
clinical evidence have expanded our knowledge of conver-
gence mechanisms. In this paper, the role of convergence
mechanisms in nociceptive physiology, physiopathology
of the headaches, clinical diagnosis, and therapeutic
conduct are reviewed.
378 Cervicogenic Headache
activation. These include the measurement of c-fos with
immunohistochemistry, metabolic activity with 2-deoxy-
glucose, and single-cell electrophysiologic techniques. The
studies are based on animal headache models, which
provide anatomic and physiologic knowledge of cranial
nociceptive pathways.
Immunohistochemical detection of the protein
product fos of the c-fos immediate-early gene
Electrical stimulation of the superior sagittal sinus (SSS) in
cats and rats has provided a useful means to study trigemi-
nal vascular pain mechanisms. SSS stimulation produces
neuronal chances within the TNC and medullary dorsal
horn, which increases c-fos immediate-early gene
expression. Electrical stimulation over the SSS induces fos-
positive cells in lamina I and II of the medullary dorsal
horn of the upper cervical spinal cord [10]. In model exper-
iments using macaca nemestrina, electrical stimulation
over the SSS produced expression of fos-positive cells in
the caudal superficial lamina of the trigeminal nucleus and
in the superficial lamina of the dorsal horn at the C1 level
of the upper cervical spinal cord [23]. Because of the close
anatomy of cranial structures of monkeys to humans, it is
likely that the cells described in this study represent
(for primates) the nucleus that mediates the pain of
migraine, suggesting a convergence process [23]. Mechani-
cal stimulation of the transverse sinus and SSS produced
a predominantly ipsilateral increase in the number of fos-
positive neurons in the TNC (lamina I) and upper cervical
dorsal horn [24]. Other studies using mechanical and
electrical stimulation of the SSS also evoked significant
increases in fos-positive cells in the lamina I and II of
the superficial dorsal horn of C1–C3 cervical spinal cord
and TNC [25].
Using chemical stimuli (injection of autologous blood
or carrageenin subdurally into the cisterna magna), Nozaki
et al. [26] introduced fos-like positive cells in the super-
ficial lamina of the medullary dorsal horn. Electrical
stimulation of the middle meningeal artery also produces
fos-positive cells in the dorsal horn of the caudal medulla
(TNC) and the upper two divisions of the cervical spinal
cord on the ipsilateral and contralateral sides [27].
Although the c-fos method is a good way to identify
cell activation after sensory stimulation, it does not
allow for the differentiation of the origin of activation of
the secondary sensory neurons. Because there is an increase
in c-fos positive neurons in both of these nuclei after
SSS stimulation or GON stimulation, we are not able
to predict the source of the sensory activation based on
pattern of c-fos expression. Therefore, c-fos studies are an
indirect method for identifying convergence mechanisms.
Metabolic mapping approach and other studies
Electrical stimulation over the SSS induces neuronal activa-
tion within the TNC and LCN followed by vascular
changes. Blood flow and metabolic activity increases in the
TNC and LCN after electrical stimulation over the SSS in
cats [28]. Stimulation of a purely cervical input, such as the
GON, also increases metabolic activity in both typically
cervical regions of the spinal cord and in the TNC [29].
The exact nature of this activation cannot be detected using
2-deoxyglucose methods. One shortcoming of this method
is that increased activity can be excitatory or inhibitory.
After stimulation, trigeminal nociceptors produce
neuropeptides (ie, CGRP, SP, and neurokinin A) [6,7].
SP is a neurotransmitter released in the lamina I and II of
the TNC and spinal cord neurons, which then can diffuse
to laminas III to V depending on the intensity of the
stimuli [30]. Teeth extraction of the incisor and molar
induces SP release in bilateral and unilateral neurons,
respectively, of the TNC and cervical spinal cord [31]. The
authors of this study propose that bilateral activation
occurs because the incisor tooth receives bilateral trigemi-
nal afferents. Other studies show that bilateral activation
of the TNC and LCN was not caused by multiple afferents,
but by the same afferent sending bilateral projections to
the TNC and LCN [27].
Electrophysiologic studies
Electrophysiologic studies are versatile methods of assess-
ing nociceptive responses and studying the overlap
between trigeminal and cervical nociception. These stud-
ies measure the progression of nociceptive responses over
time in one experiment. They produce important infor-
mation concerning convergent mechanisms. Time course
for inducing convergence mechanisms, intensity of
the stimuli, sensitization of neurons involved in sensory
processing, and therapeutic actions have been studied
using these methods.
The trigeminocervical reflex in humans is used to
measure convergent mechanisms between trigeminal and
cervical nociceptors. This method consists of electrical
stimulation over the supra-orbital nerve, which produces a
sternocleidomastoid muscle contraction (cervical inputs).
The reflex occurs with motoneuron participation (inter-
neurons) within the TNC [32]. This test has been used
for patients with headache to assess nociceptive processing
of the TNC [33].
Stimulation of nociceptive afferents from the trigemi-
nal [8] and cervical [34] territories can produce changes
that are reflected in an increase in excitability of CNS
neurons. Chemical and electrical stimulation over upper
cervical roots (GON) produces an increase in the excit-
ability of the meningeal neurons, which coincides with
a central trigeminal sensitization [35•]. In this study,
convergent neurons were found in deep layers of the
dorsal horn (lamina V–VI) that correspond with the C2
neurons (superficial layers [lamina I–II] from cervical
neurons) [35•]. These data provide clear evidence of
functional coupling between nociceptive meningeal affer-
ents and cervical afferents, with central trigeminal sensiti-
zation secondary to GON stimulation.
Convergence of Cervical and Trigeminal Sensory Afferents • Piovesan et al. 379
The time course and intensity of changes in excitability
in neurons that receive convergent inputs was determined
by recent studies. Stimulation of the upper cervical
roots (GON) produces an initial decreased excitability of
the trigeminal neurons and then a subsequent increased
excitability [35•]. These results are consistent with results
in our laboratory in experiments using chemical stimula-
tion of the dura (unpublished results).
Secondary sensory neurons in the TNC can receive
ipsilateral and contralateral inputs from the GON or
trigeminal afferents [10,35•,38]. Severe injury of trigemi-
nal nociceptive afferents, such as extraction of the incisor
tooth, produces activation in bilateral neurons of the
TNC and spinal cord [31]. The bilateral activation after
unilateral stimulation may correspond to the sensation
of a dull and poorly localized quality of pain spread
from deep somatic afferents in the trigeminocervical
regions (c-fibers) [37].
Clinical Evidence
Several clinical studies have demonstrated an overlap in
nociceptive processing between the trigeminal and cervical
systems [3,4,38]. The authors have studied (three cases)
the clinical behavior of convergence in these systems [5••].
Patients were administered upper cervical stimulation with
intradermal sterile water over the GON. The intensity of
the pain was mapped and measured using a visual
analogue scale (VAS) during stimulation and 10, 30, and
120 seconds after stimulation: at 10 seconds after GON
stimulation, all of the patients developed severe pain at the
site of the injection; in two patients (case 1 and 3), the
pain spread from the right GON territories to the areas
innervated by the first branch of the trigeminal nerve (V1)
on the ipsilateral to the intradermal injection; after 30
seconds, the pain increased and spread to the periorbital
region head innervated by the trigeminal nerve (case 1). In
cases 2 and 3, the intensity of the pain increased, but did
not spread. These patients developed ipsilateral facial
flushing and conjunctival injection and tearing, which
subsided after 60 seconds; at 2 minutes after the stimula-
tion, the intensity of the pain decreased in the ipsilateral
trigeminal region and kept the same intensity in the
cervical territories (case 1 and 2); in the third patient, the
pain maintained the same intensity in both territories.
The pain was described as lancinating with intermingled
paroxysms that lasted for approximately 2 to 3 seconds.
For all of the patients, the occipital pain was perceived
to be more intense than the trigeminal pain. Ipsilateral
occipital pain lasted an average of 4 hours and was the
only pain that the second patient experienced. The time
course of spread of the pain from the occipital to the
trigeminal region is very fast, which is shown in the study
by the authors. This process cannot be explained by central
sensitization, which generally begins at least 45 minutes
after the stimuli.
Using pressure algometry, the authors studied
the influence of light stimulation on pain perception in
the cervical and trigeminal territories in migraineurs and
control subjects. Migraineurs presented a significant and
persistent drop in pain thresholds in the trigeminal and
cervical region after light stimulation. These results
indicate that light may have a relevant role in modulating
trigeminal and cervical pain perception [39].
Another headache type that displays convergence of
trigeminal and cervical areas is cervicogenic headache.
Cervicogenic headache is a final common pathway for
several neck disorders [40]. Pain stemming from the neck
usually spreads to the oculofrontal area (trigeminal
region). The most characteristic features are symptoms
and signs of neck involvement (such as mechanical precip-
itation of attack). Blocking the GON can improve these
symptoms. The distribution of these symptoms over the
trigeminal territory and the response after a GON block
can be explained by the convergence of trigeminal and
cervical afferents in the TNC or LCN.
Therapeutic Evidence
Laboratory studies
Acute abortive migraine medications used to treat primary
headaches, such as sumatriptan and dihydroergotamine
(DHE), can inhibit the expression of c-fos positive cells
in the TNC and LCN [41,42]. Using electrophysiologic
techniques, it has been shown that neurons in the TNC
are inhibited by parenteral administration of DHE [43].
The pharmacologic mechanisms of the 5-HT1D receptor
agonist (sumatriptan) may be mediated peripherally,
whether by inhibition of plasma extravasation or by direct
vasoconstriction [42]. In addition, it was shown that trip-
tans act centrally within the trigeminocervical complex.
Microiontophoretic injections of ergometrine or sumatrip-
tan into this site produced inhibition of neuronal activa-
tion from the SSS nociceptors [43].
These studies suggest that triptans, which are serotonin 5-
HT1B/1D receptor agonists, inhibit evoked trigeminovascular
nociceptive activity in the trigeminocervical complex.
Sumatriptan (after blood-brain barrier disruption), eletrip-
tan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, 4991W93, and zolmitriptan
block evoked trigeminal nucleus activity [44]. Opioid
receptors also are involved in cardiovascular nociception,
specifically within the trigeminocervical complex. Studies
using microiontophoresis determined that -receptor ago-
nists inhibit neurons in the TNC post-synaptic to trigeminal
afferents [45]. Valproic acid, an inhibitor of γ aminobutyric
acid (GABA) aminotransferase, when applied to the rat in the
trigeminocervical nociceptive models, reduced the expres-
sion of c-fos-positive cells in the TNC [46] after trigeminal
stimulation. Electrophysiologic studies, combined with
microiontophoresis, also suggested that GABA receptors
modulate trigeminovascular nociceptive transmission in the
trigeminocervical complex [47].
380 Cervicogenic Headache
These studies suggest that the trigeminal nociceptive
system in the trigeminocervical complex is modulated by
several neurotransmitter systems, such as 5-HT, GABA,
opioid, and others (Fig. 1).
Clinical studies
Some headaches, in which the etiology is trigeminal activa-
tion, benefit from anesthetic blockage of the upper cervical
roots (GON) [2,48–50]. This therapeutic response can be
explained only by a convergence mechanism between
trigeminal and cervical roots. However, other studies
showed that blocking the GON did not influence migraine
attacks [52] or other primary headaches [51]. Electrical
stimulation of the GON or the suboccipital regions
produces improvement in chronic headaches, such as
cluster (unpublished data) and chronic migraine [53].
The authors’ experience with GON blockage with
bupivacaine 0.5% for migraine prophylaxis showed
increased headache intensity for the first 30 days [54].
The migraine attacks improved after this time and this
improvement was maintained for more than 60 days.
Studies that used prilocaine hydrochloride 2% over the
GON [55] and bupivacaine 0.5% over the GON and
supraorbital nerve [56] showed reduced intensity during
attacks. In an isolated study with a limited number of
patients, GON blockage did not reduce the intensity of
acute migraine attacks [52].
Greater occipital nerve manipulation is a good
therapeutic option for some chronic headaches. Cluster
headache attacks were improved after blocking the GON
[49]. Patients with chronic migraine who received subcuta-
neous suboccipital neurostimulation showed headache
improvement after activation of this device [53]. Less
effective responses occurred for chronic paroxysmal hemi-
crania and hemicrania continua, in which GON block did
not reduce the pain [51].
Those headaches that we know have an etiology
restricted to the trigeminal afferents show a good response
after the upper cervical roots (GON) are blocked. There is
good evidence that trigeminocervical convergence mecha-
nisms exist. GON block produced improvement of the
frontal pain that occurs in some headaches with a cervical
etiology. Perhaps the best example for this is that the
diagnostic criteria for cervicogenic headache include
significant headache improvement after GON block [40].
In a study by Piovesan et al. [57], patients suffering from
cervicogenic headaches with chronic presentation showed
a positive response after GON block.
Other Connections with
Trigeminocervical Complex
Autonomic-trigeminocervical connections
The TNC is a nociceptive structure that exerts fundamental
control over inputs from cervical and trigeminal nocicep-
tors. However, it also receives other inputs that participate
in head pain control. The parasympathetic system (vagus
nerve), together with the TNC and LCN (trigeminocervical
Figure 1. Convergence mechanisms and neuro-
transmitters involved in pain modulation. PR—
prejunctional receptors; pos-R—post-junctional
receptors; 5-HT1B/1D receptors for triptans [46];
5-HT1 receptors for dihydroergotamine;
opioids—receptor [47]; GABA-A—receptors
[48,49]; trigeminocervical complex—trigeminal
nucleus caudalis and lateral cervical nucleus
[10,15–17,23,44,45]; hypoglossal afferents [22];
simpato afferents [20,21].
Convergence of Cervical and Trigeminal Sensory Afferents • Piovesan et al. 381
structures), could increase or decrease the pain signals.
Vagus nerve stimulation produces inhibitions in the
trigeminothalamic projection neurons from the TNC [58]
and in tooth pulp-responsive units (trigeminal) in ventro-
posteromedial nucleus of the thalamus [59,60]. Low-
intensity stimulations of cervical vagal afferents facilitate
nociceptive reflexes such as the jaw-opening reflex [61] or
the tail-flick reflex [62].
Continuous vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) for 24
hours in awake rats produced significant antinociceptive
effects in a model of trigeminal pain [64]. This showed
that VNS stimulation significantly inhibits activation of
second-order nociceptors in the TNC and pain-related
behavior on the side of the facial nociceptive stimulus
during the early and late phase. Vagal afferent stimulation
predominantly inhibits sensory processing in the
TNC [58,65] and in the ventral posteromedial thalamic
nucleus [59] (Fig. 2).
Chemical and electrical stimulation of the distal hypo-
glossal (12th) nerve trunk produced a significant increase
in fos-positive neurons in the dorsal paratrigeminal
nucleus and laminae I and II of the TNC and upper cervical
dorsal horn in rats [22].
Projections from the trigeminocervical
nociceptive complex
The TNC sends nociceptive information to the ventro-
posteromedial (nucleus of the ventrobasal complex) of
the thalamus and to other medial nuclei [66]. It also
relays information from the hypothalamus in the
trigeminohypothalamic pathway [67], which may explain
some of the premonitory symptoms that are associated
with primary headaches disorders. Some studies specu-
late that there may be convergence of trigeminal sensory
information and sensory information from other areas in
the thalamus.
The first step of complex central modulation of
cranial pain syndromes starts in the TNC and upper
cervical horn. The TNC and LCN are the main nuclei that
receive nociceptive information and together they form
the trigeminocervical complex. These nuclei are anatomi-
cally separated, but functionally connected between the
convergent mechanisms. Recent clinical and laboratory
evidence suggests that this complex is involved in noci-
ceptive modulation during migraine, cluster, and other
headache attacks. Cells inside these nuclei are considered
to be multimodal neurons. One multimodal cell can
receive two or more inputs from distinct origins (ie, from
the trigeminal nerve, cervical roots, parasympathetic
nerve, or other nociceptive areas). These physiologic
properties produce divergent symptoms, which are mani-
fested by diffuse pain without regard to topographic
anatomic nerve distribution. Some of the neurotransmit-
ters that regulate these mechanisms include 5-HT, GABA,
opioid, norepinephrine, and other substances. Under-
standing the anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology
of convergence mechanisms may help understand the
Figure 2. Anatomic and physiologic distribu-
tion of elements involved in the convergence
mechanisms. TNC—trigeminal nucleus
caudalis; LCN—lateral cervical nucleus;
trigeminocervical complex—TNC and LCN;
V1—branch from the trigeminal first division;
C1–C3—branch from the upper cervical roots;
empty circle—secondary nociceptive neurons
that receive input from the trigeminal territory;
colored circle—secondary neurons that
receive input from the cervical territory;
partially colored circle—secondary neurons
that receive inputs from the trigeminal and
cervical territory (multimodal cells).
382 Cervicogenic Headache
clinical features and future treatments for headache and
other facial pain.
This review shows that convergence of trigeminal and
cervical afferents, which are located within the trigemino-
cervical complex, produce diffuse painful symptoms and
are responsible for the first step in nociceptive modulation
in patients with primary headaches.
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... Some headaches that originated from trigeminal activation bene ted from GONB, and this response could be explained only by convergence between the trigeminal nerve and upper cervical nerve. 20 Chronic ONP is more likely to occur in patients with dysfunction in the ocular sensory apparatus and is called sensitization. 21 We thought that the "convergence" in TCC might have a role in pain modulation and hypothesized that GONB could reduce ocular pain signals induced by sensitization in the ocular sensory apparatus. ...
... 29 Additionally, as secondary sensory neurons in the TNC can receive ipsilateral and contralateral inputs from the GON, we performed GONB on both sides even if the patient reported pain on only one side because a blockade on one side could affect the contralateral side. 20,29 The reason for the injection every two weeks was to observe the therapeutic effect and to give the patient time to recover from tissue damage caused by repeated injections. In our study, 4 patients reported pain in the injection site, which was suggestive of greater occipital neuritis, but it was easily handled at the next visit after adding a small amount of triamcinolone to the lidocaine solution. ...
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Background:Ocular neuropathic pain (ONP) has various etiologies and substantially decreases the quality of life of patients. Theclinical management of patientswith ONP has been debated. Based on the convergence in the trigeminocervical complex, this study evaluated the effect of repeated greater occipital nerve block (GONB) for ONP. Methods:Two hundred and four patients received a GONB every two weeks, up to 10 times. The posttreatmentoutcomes were measured using a pain relief scale at the next visit, with the first visit as the baseline (10). Results: The differences and magnitude of decrease in the overall pain relief scale score (estimate=-0.55, p<0.001) were statistically significant. The changes in pain relief scale scores of eye pain (-0.54, p<0.001), dysesthesias/allodynia (-0.52, p<0.001), noneye pain (-0.39, p<0.001), visual disturbance (-0.38, p<0.001) and tearing (-0.52, p<0.001) were also statistically significant between the assessment time points. Conclusions:Although it is premature to recommend repeated GONB for the management of ONP, it can be used as an effective technique. Trial registration: Registered this study in the Clinical Research Information Service of Republic of Korea (no. KCT0007615) on October 26, 2022
... Another suggested mechanism is trigeminocervical convergence. [80][81][82] The neurons in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis that extend to C2 and the lateral cervical nucleus are stimulated by trigeminal activation causing symptoms in both trigeminal and cervical regions. This mechanism could be activated as painful TMD becomes chronic leading to the observed association between chronic painful TMD and neck pain, but not with back pain. ...
... Another suggested mechanism is trigeminocervical convergence. [80][81][82] The neurons in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis that extend to C2 and the lateral cervical nucleus are stimulated by trigeminal activation causing symptoms in both the trigeminal and cervical regions. This mechanism could be activated as painful TMD becomes chronic leading to the observed association between chronic painful TMD and neck pain, but not back pain. ...
... Previous research has shown that subjects with PH may have musculoskeletal alterations of the cervical spine that may contribute to the persistence and aggravation of symptoms [8,9]. This could be explained by the close connection between the cervical spine and the craniofacial area through the trigeminocervical nucleus [10], which is a region of exchange of nociceptive information between these two areas [11][12][13]. The connection between the cervical spine and the craniofacial region has been especially studied in physiotherapy because of its clinical implications for evaluation and treatment. ...
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This systematic review aims to summarise the evidence from studies that examined morphometric alterations of the deep neck muscles using diagnostic imaging (ultrasound imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, and computed tomography) in patients diagnosed with primary headache disorders (PHD). No previous reviews have focused on documenting morphometric changes in this population. We searched five databases (up to 12 November 2022) to identify the studies. The risk of bias (RoB) was assessed using the Quality in Prognostic Studies (QUIPS) tool and the overall quality of the evidence was assessed using The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) system. A total of 1246 studies were screened and five were finally included; most were at high RoB, and the overall level of confidence in results was very low. Only two studies showed a significant association between morphometric alterations of the deep neck muscles and PHD (p < 0.001); nevertheless, their RoB was high. Contradictory and mixed results were obtained. The overall evidence did not show a clear association between morphometric alterations of the deep neck muscles in patients diagnosed with PHD. However, due to the limited number of studies and low confidence in the evidence, it is necessary to carry out more studies, with higher methodological quality to better answer our question.
... Нейроны тройничного узла человека имеют округлую форму с четкими кон-турами, розово-фиолетовой цитоплазмой и одним ядром. Размеры тел клеток варьируют от 9,2 до 50 мкм [24][25][26][27]. ...
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The article summarizes data about the structural and functional organization of the sensory ganglion of V cranial nerve - trigeminal, or Gassesrian, ganglion. Information about its discovery, embryonic development, anatomy and topography, features of cyto- and histoarchitectonics are given, the role of neurotransmitters of trigeminal ganglion neurons in nociception mechanisms is reflected, the functional significance of the trigeminal system and clinical aspects of the lesion of the Gasserian ganglion are described.
Neck pain is a common source of pain with an overall prevalence of up to 86.6% and a mean of 23.1%. A comprehensive assessment for neck pain includes a thorough history and physical exam supplemented by outcome measures, laboratory studies, and imaging if appropriate. It is important to address the patient from a biopsychosocial approach. The most common etiology of neck pain is biomechanical in origin and is most often due to cervical facet joints. Treatment of such includes a stepwise approach starting with the least invasive measures. This includes conservative, pharmacological, interventional, and very rarely, surgical options. Another commonly encountered condition of the cervical spine is cervical radiculopathy. Nerve conduction studies and electromyography as well as magnetic resonance imaging are additional investigations that can be helpful in situations with radicular and neuropathic symptoms.
Background: Chronic daily headache can develop or pre-existing episodic headache can worsen after whiplash and is termed persistent headache attributed to whiplash. It can be a therapeutic challenge and often results in severe disability. The objective was to assess the management of patients with refractory secondary chronic daily headache referred to a pain physician in consideration for greater occipital nerve block. Methods: Prospective service evaluation in adult patients with oro-facial pain and headaches. Patients underwent specialist neurology review and analgesic overuse headache was excluded. Patients with chronic daily headache with a past history of neck trauma were included. Cervical facet joint dysfunction and intracranial pathology were excluded. An initial cohort of 27 patients received occipital nerve block without benefit. Subsequently, all patients were offered ultrasound guided intermediate cervical plexus block with local anesthetic and steroid mixture. Four-week headache diary, Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form and Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale questionnaires were completed at baseline and three months post-intervention. Results: Over a 41-month period, 43 patients were reviewed. The first 27 patients (27/43, 63%) reported no benefit with occipital nerve block. Subsequently, patients were offered intermediate cervical plexus block(s). Four patients refused. Thirty-nine patients received the intervention. Thirty-two patients (32/39, 82%) reported significant reduction in headache frequency and intensity at three months. Failure rate was 18% (7/39). Conclusion: The cervical plexus could play a significant role in the development or worsening of pre-existing headache after whiplash. Intermediate cervical plexus block may have a role in the management of refractory chronic daily headache following whiplash injury.
Objectives: To describe a unique case of probable paroxysmal hemicrania which was mistaken for cervicogenic headache and to investigate reasons for misdiagnosis, which includes imperfect diagnostic criteria, unique pathophysiology, and inadequate headache education in the field of pain medicine. Case report: We present a sixty-six-year-old female with multiple disorders of the cervical spine and a two-year history of left-sided neck pain and headache. She was seen by multiple specialists and originally assumed to have cervicogenic headache. She did not respond to conservative measures or medial branch block. Ultimately, she was suspected to have paroxysmal hemicrania, despite her not having obvious autonomic features. She obtained complete relief with indomethacin. Conclusions: Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias such as paroxysmal hemicrania and hemicrania continua can be mistaken for cervicogenic headache. The diagnostic criteria for cervicogenic headache should be better defined. Cervicogenic headache and the trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, including paroxysmal hemicrania, can refer pain to various areas of the head and neck.1-4 This occurs via convergent afferent fibers and the trigeminocervical complex. 5-7 This overlapping symptomatology and pathophysiology explains how misdiagnosis of certain headache disorders can occur. Lastly, it is imperative that pain medicine providers have adequate training in headache medicine.
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A logical, anatomically based method of acupuncture treatment for trigeminal neuralgia is proposed. The method is based on the level of involvement of each of the three trigeminal; divisions. Traditional acupuncture points are related to surface anatomy of each division with explanation for their use.
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This paper describes the Bárány Society Classification OverSight Committee (COSC) position on Cervical Dizziness sometimes referred to as Cervical Vertigo. This involved an initial review by a group of experts across a broad range of fields, and then subsequent review by the Bárány Society COSC. Based upon the so far published literature, the Bárány Society COSC takes the view that the evidence supporting a mechanistic link between an illusory sensation of self-motion (spinning or otherwise) and neck pathology and/or symptoms of neck pain - either by affecting the cervical vertebra, soft tissue structures or cervical nerve roots - is lacking. When a combined head and neck movement triggers an illusory sensation of spinning, there is either an underlying common vestibular condition such as migraine or BPPV or less commonly a central vestibular condition including, when acute in onset, dangerous conditions such as a dissection of the vertebral artery with posterior circulation stroke and, exceedingly rarely, a vertebral artery compression syndrome. The Committee notes however, that migraine, including vestibular migraine, is by far, the commonest cause for the combination of neck pain and vestibular symptoms. The committee notes that since head movement aggravates symptoms in almost any vestibular condition, the common finding of increased neck muscle tension in vestibular patients, may be linked as both cause and effect, to reduced head movements. Additionally, there are theoretical mechanisms, which have never been explored, whereby cervical pain may promote vaso-vagal, cardio-inhibitory reflexes and hence by presyncopal mechanisms, elicit transient disorientation and/or imbalance. The committee accepts that further research is required to answer the question as to whether those rare cases in which neck muscle spasm is associated with a vague sense of spatial disorientation and/or imbalance, is indeed linked to impaired neck proprioception. Future studies should ideally be placebo controlled and double-blinded where possible, with strict inclusion and exclusion criteria that aim for high specificity at the cost of sensitivity. To facilitate further studies in “cervical dizziness/vertigo”, we provide a narrative view of the important confounds investigators should consider when designing controlled mechanistic and therapeutic studies. Hence, currently, the Bárány COSC, refrains from proposing any preliminary diagnostic criteria for clinical use outside a research study. This position may change as new research evidence is provided.
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Relatamos o caso de paciente do sexo feminino, com 32 anos de idade, com sintomas álgicos na região occipital, compressivos de forte intensidade e com irradiação frontal, supraorbitária e orbitária esquerda, relacionada a movimentos de flexão e extensão do pescoço, com característica lancinante e duração de até 9 segundos. A investigação radiológica, clínica, neurocirúrgica e neuropatológica evidenciou um meduloblastoma que aderia à membrana tentorial promovendo espessamento e compressão das estruturas venosas desta região. Atribuímos ao estímulo mecânico sobre estas estruturas vasculares tentoriais as manifestações álgicas envolvendo as conexões entre o trigêmeo e os primeiros segmentos medulares cervicais.
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The blockade of the greater occipital nerve (GON) has been used in the treatment of migraine without aura (MWOA), tension-type headache (TTH) and cervicogenic headache (CH). There have been only a few reports about the effectiveness of the GON blockade in patients with MWOA and TTH and it has not yet been clarified whether or not it is a diagnostic tool for CH. In this study, we therefore investigated the diagnostic value of GON blockade in patients with CH, MWOA and TTH. Sixty patients who were affected by TTH, MWOA and CH participated in the study. They were divided into three main groups, each of which consisted of 20 patients with TTH, MWOA and CH respectively. Each group was then divided into two sub-groups with 10 patients, ten of whom were injected with 1 ml 2% prilocaine, and the other ten with 1 ml physiological saline (PS). Our results showed that GON blockade reduced pain in the orbitofrontal (OF) and orbitonuchal (ON) areas in patients with CH. In MWOA and TTH patients, GON blockade reduced pain only in the ON area. In the light of these findings, we may conclude that GON blockade is a diagnostic tool if it is effective in the ON and OF areas.
The authors present the description of four headache cases with clinical and therapeutical aspects that would assimilate them to the controversial cervicogenic headache. All four patients presented intense pain at digital stimulation of Arnold's point, and in three patients these stimuli evoked a headache crisis with constant unilateral location. In all cases, therapy with repeated anaesthetic blocks of the greater occipital nerve induced immediate relief of pain and complete control of the headache attacks with excellent results on follow-up (from 6 to 14 months). The authors suppose that the anaesthetic nerve blockade is able to control acute pain and automatic symptomatology by blocking a trigger mechanism which is tought to produce a continuous subliminal nociceptor activation of central nervous system.
The pain of a migraine attack is often described as unilateral, with a throbbing or pulsating quality. The middle meningeal artery (MMA) is the largest artery supplying the dura mater, is paired, and pain-producing in humans. This artery, or its branches, and other large intracranial extracerebral vessels have been implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine by theories suggesting neurogenic inflammation or cranial vasodilatation, or both, as explanations for the pain of migraine. Having previously studied in detail the distribution of the second order neurons that are involved in the transmission of nociceptive signals from intracranial venous sinuses, we sought to compare the distribution of second order neurons from a pain-producing intracranial artery in both monkey and cat. By electrically stimulating the middle meningeal artery in these species and using immunohistochemical detection of the proto-oncogene Fos as a marker of neuronal activation, we have mapped the sites of the central trigeminal neurons which may be involved in transmission of nociception from intracranial extracerebral arteries. Ten cats and 3 monkeys were anaesthetised with α-chloralose and the middle meningeal artery was isolated following a temporal craniotomy. The animals were maintained under stable anaesthesia for 24 h to allow Fos expression due to the initial surgery to dissipate. Following the rest period, the vessel was carefully lifted onto hook electrodes, and then left alone in control animals (cat n = 3), or stimulated (cat n = 6, monkey n = 3). Stimulation of the left middle meningeal artery evoked Fos expression in the trigeminocervical nucleus, consisting of the dorsal horn of the caudal medulla and upper 2 divisions of the cervical spinal cord, on both the ipsilateral and contralateral sides. Cats had larger amounts of Fos expressed on the ipsilateral than on the contralateral side. Fos expression in the caudal nucleus tractus solitarius and its caudal extension in lamina X of the spinal cord was seen bilaterally in response to middle meningeal artery stimulation. This study demonstrates a comparable anatomical distribution of Fos activation between cat and monkey and, when compared with previous studies, between this arterial structure and the superior sagittal sinus. These data add to the overall picture of the trigeminovascular innervation of the intracranial pain-producing vessels showing marked anatomical overlap which is consistent with the often poorly localised pain of migraine.
A seven year old boy presented with a 4 day history of frontal headache, vomiting, dizziness, and tiredness. He had sustained a minor head injury 6 days before admission by falling from his bicycle. This was not associated with loss of consciousness and he initially made a full recovery. On examination, he was drowsy with no focal neurological signs and no papilloedema. (A) Cerebral CT showing left cerebellar hemispheric low density with distortion of the fourth ventricle. There is moderate dilatation of the third (small arrow) and lateral ventricles (large arrows). (B) Axial cerebral T2 weighted MRI showing an area of high intensity involving the left cerebellar hemisphere …
The synaptic relationship between substance P (SP) and its receptor, i.e. neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R), was examined in the superficial laminae of the caudal subnucleus of the spinal trigeminal nucleus (medullary dorsal horn; MDH) of the rat. For confocal laser-scanning microscopy, double-immunofluorescence histochemistry for NK1 and SP was performed. In electron microscopic double-immunolabeling study, immunoreactivity for NK1R was detected with the silver-intensified gold method, while immunoreactivity for SP was detected with peroxidase immunohistochemistry. SP-immunoreactive axon terminals were observed to be in synaptic (mostly asymmetric) contact with NK1R-immunoreactive neuronal profiles in lamina I and lamina IIo. Although some SP-immunoreactive axon terminals were in synaptic contact with NK1R-immunoreactive sites of plasma membranes, NK1R-immunoreactivity was observed at both synaptic and non-synaptic sites of plasma membrane. Thus, SP released from axon terminals might not only act on NK1Rs facing the SP-containing axon terminals, but also diffuse in the extracellular fluid for distances larger than the synaptic cleft to act on NK1Rs at some distances from the synaptic sites.
The purpose of the present study is to test the hypothesis that via the endogenous pain control system, vagal afferent input modulates the activity of the trigeminal spinal nucleus oralis (TSNO) related to the tooth pulp (TP)-evoked jaw-opening reflex (JOR). Extracellular single-unit recordings were made from 36 TSNO units responding to TP electrical stimulation with a constant temporal relationship to a digastric electromyogram (dEMG) signal in 26 pentobarbital-anesthetized rats. The activity of 36 TSNO neurons and the amplitude of the dEMG increased proportionally during 1.0–3.5 times the threshold for JOR. Some of these neurons (4 out of 5) were also excited by chemical stimulation (bradykinin, 1–2 μl, 1 mM) of TP. In 31 out of 36 TSNO neurons (86%), their activities during tooth pulp stimulation were suppressed by conditioning stimulation of the right vagus nerve. The suppressive effect of vagal afferent stimulation occurred at conditioning-test intervals of 20–150 ms after the onset of the stimulation, and its maximal suppressive effect occurred at approximately 50 ms. The mean time course of this suppressive effect paralleled that of the dEMG. After administration of naloxone (0.5 and 1.0 mg/kg, i.v.), an opiate receptor blocker, the suppressive effect on the activity of TSNO neurons (6 out of 8) was significantly attenuated at the conditioning-test interval of 50 ms compared to the control (p < 0.01). These results suggested that vagal afferent input inhibits nociceptive transmission in the TSNO related to TP-evoked JOR and this inhibitory effect may occur via the endogenous opioid system in rats.
This paper examines the clinical features of 500 patients with idiopathic headache. Of the 383 patients diagnosed as migraine, it was found that 184 (48%) were suffering from headaches due to irritation of the greater occipital nerve (GON). Such headaches could be arrested by injecting the ipsilateral greater occipital nerve (GON) with local anaesthetic, prevented for up to 4 weeks by injecting 'Depomedrol' into the region of the nerve and for several months by surgical division of the nerve. It is suggested that such patients are not suffering from typical migraine but from headaches due to neural irritation, which, for want of a better name, have been called 'occipital neuralgia'.
The expression of c-fos protein was examined by immunohistochemistry in serial sections of brainstem following the instillation of either autologous arterial blood (0.3 ml) or mock cerebrospinal fluid (0.3 ml) through a catheter placed in the cisterna magna, or following catheter placement alone in pentobarbital-anesthetized Sprague-Dawley rats. After injection, blood was distributed within the subarachnoid space surrounding the brainstem and in the region of the circle of Willis, c-fos protein-like immunoreactivity was present at 1 h, peaked at 2 h and decreased by 8 h. At 2 h, immunoreactivity was strongly expressed within trigeminal nucleus caudalis (lamina I, IIo), as well as within nucleus of the solitary tract, area postrema, ependyma, pia mater and arachnoid in every animal. Moderate labeling was found in parabrachial nucleus, medullary lateral reticular nucleus and central gray. Sparse labeling was present in trigeminal nucleus caudalis (lamina III-V) and trigeminal nucleus interpolaris; few or no labeled cells were detected in other parts of the trigeminal nuclear complex, thalamus, cerebral cortex, cerebellar cortex or trigeminal ganglion. The number of positive cells was not related to the volume of injectate but was related to the amount of injected blood. The density of cell labeling evoked by injecting mock cerebrospinal fluid or after catheter placement was markedly lower than after blood in all brainstem areas. The number of labeled cells was greatly reduced within trigeminal nuclear complex, parabrachial nucleus and medullary lateral reticular nucleus, but not within the nucleus of the solitary tract, area postrema or ependyma when blood was injected into adult animals in which unmyelinated C-fibers were destroyed by neonatal capsaicin treatment. Similar results were obtained after blood was instilled into the cisterna magna of rats in which meningeal afferents were chronically sectioned at the ethmoidal foramen bilaterally.