Cluster Headache Pain and Symptomatology

February 26, 2021
Steven A. King, MD, MS

A recent survey queried cluster headache patients to compare cluster headache pain intensity to other painful disorders. The results, highlighted in this quick slideshow, may surprise.

Cluster headaches (HA) are considered the third most common primary HA (ie, HA for which there is no identifiable etiology), after tension-type and migraine HA. However, due to the nature of the pain and accompanying symptoms, cluster HA may be misdiagnosed, and the related morbidity underestimated. A recent study published in the journal Headache provides a clearer picture of the nature of cluster HA symptoms. The study is part of the Cluster Headache Questionnaire, a self-administered internet-based cross-sectional survey, and 1604 patients with cluster HA were included in the current study.

The severity of the pain that accompanies cluster HA is revealed by a question regarding how the level of the HA pain on a scale of 0-10 (with 10 being the worst pain) compares with pain from other painful conditions and illnesses respondents may have had, such as labor pain, pancreatitis, nephrolithiasis, and cholelithiasis. Scroll through the slides below for key takeaways from the survey.