Document Type


Publication Date

July 2006


This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Cephalgia 26(7):852-856, July 2006. The definitive version is available at ; copyright is retained by Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.


Allodynia has been described in migraine but has not been fully investigated for the different sensory modalities. The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of dynamic (brush) and static (pressure) mechanical allodynia in migraine patients and to suggest a practical method of testing them in a clinical setting. Patients with International Headache Society-defined episodic migraine (EM) or with transformed migraine (TM) as defined by Silberstein and Lipton were prospectively recruited from the Jefferson Headache Center out-patient clinic. A questionnaire of migraine features and symptoms of allodynia was administered. Brush allodynia (BA) was tested by cutaneous stimulation with a gauze pad and pressure allodynia (PA) was tested using von Frey hairs (VFH). The prevalence of BA and PA in all patients and in the different subgroups was calculated and correlated with migraine features. We recruited 55 migraine patients. Twenty-five had EM and 30 had TM. BA was present in 18 (32.7%) patients and PA in 18–24 (32.7–43.6%). Allodynia to both brush and pressure was found in 13–17 (23.6–30.9%) patients. If a patient had allodynia to one modality only, it was more likely to be PA than BA. Both BA and PA were more common in patients with TM compared with those with EM [BA 46.7% vs. 16.0%; PA (differences significant for the medium and thick VFHs) 50% vs. 20% and 50% vs. 12%, respectively]. Both types of allodynia were also more common in patients with migraine with aura compared with those with migraine without aura (BA 57.1% vs. 17.6%; PA 57.1–61.9% vs. 17.6–32.7%). There was a positive correlation between allodynia score (as obtained by examination) and allodynia index (as obtained by history) for both BA and PA. The incomplete, although considerable, overlap between BA and PA suggests that allodynia to different sensory modalities is associated with sensitization of different neuronal populations. Because PA was more common than BA, it may be a more sensitive indicator of allodynia in migraine. PA can be tested clinically in a practical and systematic manner.

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