Unilateral or bilateral paroxysmal, shooting or stabbing pain in the posterior part of the scalp, in the distribution of the greater, lesser or third occipital nerves, sometimes accompanied by diminished sensation or dysaesthesia in the affected area and commonly associated with tenderness over the involved nerve(s).

Diagnostic criteria:
A. Unilateral or bilateral pain fulfilling criteria B-E
B. Pain is located in the distribution of the greater, lesser and/or third occipital nerves
C. Pain has two of the following three characteristics:

recurring in paroxysmal attacks lasting from a few seconds to minutes
severe intensity
shooting, stabbing or sharp in quality

D. Pain is associated with both of the following:

  1. dysaesthesia and/or allodynia apparent during innocuous stimulation of the scalp and/or hair
  2. either or both of the following:
    1. tenderness over the affected nerve branches
    2. trigger points at the emergence of the greater occipital nerve or in the area of distribution of C2

E. Pain is eased temporarily by local anaesthetic block of the affected nerve
F. Not better accounted for by another ICHD-3 diagnosis.


Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) (2013). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia 2013; 33: 9-807.

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