Differences in Clinical Characteristics and Frequency of Accompanying Migraine Features in Episodic and Chronic Cluster Headache

Authors: C Gaul, N Christmann, D Schroder, R Weber, H Shanib, HC Diener, and D Holle
Source: Cephalalgia, March 9, 2012


Introduction: Data on clinical differences between episodic (eCH) and chronic cluster headache (cCH) and accompanying migraine features are limited.
Methods: History and clinical features of 209 consecutive cluster headache patients (144 eCH, 65 cCH; male:female ratio 3.4 : 1) were obtained in a tertiary headache centre by face-to-face interviews. Relationship between occurrence of accompanying symptoms, pain intensity, comorbid migraine, and circannual and circadian rhythmicity was analyzed.
Results: 99.5% of patients reported a minimum of one ipsilateral cranial autonomic symptom (CAS); 80% showed at least three CAS. A seasonal rhythmicity was observed in both eCH and cCH. A comorbid headache disorder occurred in 25%. No significant difference was detected between patients with comorbid migraine and without regarding occurrence of phonophobia, photophobia or nausea during cluster attacks. Patients with comorbid migraine reported allodynia significantly (p¼0.022) more often during cluster attacks than patients without comorbid migraine.
Conclusion: Occurrence of CAS and attack frequency, as well as periodic patterns of attacks, are relatively uniform in eCH and cCH. Multiple CAS are not related to pain intensity. Allodynia during cluster attacks is a frequent symptom. The unexpectedly high rate of accompanying migrainous features during cluster attacks cannot be explained by comorbid migraine.
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