Medical Definition of Headache, cluster

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Headache, cluster: A distinctive episodic syndrome of headaches. The most common cluster headache pattern, acute cluster headache, is characterized by one to three short attacks of pain each day around the eyes, clustered over a stretch of 1 to 2 months, and followed by a pain-free period that averages 1 year. The other main pattern of cluster headache, chronic or episodic cluster headache, is characterized by the absence of sustained periods of remission, with pain occurring out of the blue or emerging several years after an episodic pattern. Cluster headache is different and distinct from migraine, although the underlying mechanisms are similar. For example, propranolol is effective in treating migraine but not in treating cluster headache, whereas lithium is beneficial for cluster headache but not migraine. Also known as ciliary neuralgia, erythroprosopalgia, histamine cephalgia, migrainous neuralgia, Raeder syndrome, sphenopalatine neuralgia, and vidian neuralgia.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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