Headaches Clinical Guide

Neurology
35 articles

This Clinical Guide presents an overview of headache disorders. We outline a broad classification framework for practitioners, while reviewing key pearls for diagnosing individual patients. We walk you through the diagnostic criteria, tell you which patients require further testing, and cover treatment regimens for the various disorders.

The most important step in helping your headache patients is determining an accurate diagnosis. In these articles, you will be exposed to the pitfalls and pearls of accurately diagnosing headache disorders. We explore both the primary headaches and secondary headaches, as well as review ominous headache events. You’ll gain the knowledge to guide your patients through diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of headache syndromes, while confidently soothing their anxieties. You will also be able to help patients recognize what might be triggering headaches and how to avoid these triggers. Once a diagnosis is established, you will be led through treatment options ranging from non-pharmacologic management steps to prophylactic and abortive medicine regimens.

This Clinical Guide presents an overview of headache disorders. We outline a broad classification framework for practitioners, while reviewing key pearls for diagnosing individual patients. We walk you through the diagnostic criteria, tell you which patients require further testing, and cover treatment regimens for the various disorders.

The most important step in helping your headache patients is determining an accurate diagnosis. In these articles, you will be exposed to the pitfalls and pearls of accurately diagnosing headache disorders. We explore both the primary headaches and secondary headaches, as well as review ominous headache events. You’ll gain the knowledge to guide your patients through diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of headache syndromes, while confidently soothing their anxieties. You will also be able to help patients recognize what might be triggering headaches and how to avoid these triggers. Once a diagnosis is established, you will be led through treatment options ranging from non-pharmacologic management steps to prophylactic and abortive medicine regimens.

Last update2nd Aug 2022
Chapter 1

What are the primary headache disorders?

Headache is one of the most common patient complaints. This chapter will familiarize you with the International Classification of Headache Disorders and the possible causes of headache pain. We then review the diagnosis of three key primary headache types including migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches, and briefly review other primary headache disorders and chronic daily headaches.

How to classify headaches

In this Medmastery article, learn how to recognize headache symptoms and classify headache disorders.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20213m read

The four causes of primary headaches

Learn the clinical characteristics of primary headaches and the complex mechanisms that cause them.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20213m read

How to diagnose migraine headaches

Not sure if your patient has migraine headaches? Check out our article and learn the criteria for diagnosing migraines.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20214m read

What are the four phases of migraine headaches?

Learn to recognize the clinical presentation of the four phases of migraine headaches with this short article.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20213m read

How to diagnose tension headaches

In this article, learn the diagnostic criteria of the most misunderstood primary headache disorder—tension headaches.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20213m read

Diagnosing and treating cluster headaches

In this Medmastery article, learn a simple and effective approach to diagnose and treat cluster headaches.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 2nd Aug 20223m read

Diagnosing the trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

Learn to diagnose the trigeminal autonomic cephalagias—paroxysmal hemicrania, hemicrania continua, and SUNCT.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20214m read

A summary of other primary headaches

Learn how to identify the eight other primary headaches and their common characteristics in this Medmastery article.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20215m read

Diagnosing and treating chronic daily headaches

Diagnose and treat chronic daily headaches with confidence. Learn to identify the key clinical characteristics here.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20213m read
Chapter 2

A look at the secondary headache disorders

Secondary headaches are classified into eight broad categories. In these articles we’ll review how to diagnose a number of common secondary headaches which include sinus headaches, headaches from musculoskeletal pain or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, cranial neuralgias, and analgesic overuse headaches. Most importantly, we’ll summarize concerning red flag symptoms and the ominous headache syndromes that require immediate intervention. We’ll also take a look at underlying medical conditions that can also cause secondary headaches.

Diagnosing and treating sinus headaches

Headaches and sinus pain. Learn the how to diagnose and treat patients with sinus headaches. Read the article now.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 28th Feb 20213m read

What’s the connection between headaches and neck or muscle pain?

Is neck or shoulder pain a headache symptom or a headache trigger? Learn the truth about this connection in this article.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 2nd Aug 20224m read

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) related headaches

In this short Medmastery article, learn how the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can trigger headaches.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20203m read

Identifying and managing medication overuse headache

Learn to everything you need to know to identify and manage medication overuse headaches. Read this article.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20204m read

SNOOPP: Recognizing red flags in your headache patients

Learn how to use SNOOPP to identify red flags and uncover secondary headache disorders. Get the infographic now.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20202m read

Diagnosing secondary sudden onset (thunderclap) headaches

Does your patient have sudden onset (thunderclap) headaches? Learn to differentiate the severe from the benign.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 2nd Aug 20224m read

Severe conditions associated with secondary headaches

Learn the three severe conditions associated with secondary headaches and how to diagnose and treat them.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20203m read

A review of medical conditions that can cause secondary headaches

Learn about some of the unexpected medical conditions that cause secondary headaches. Read the article now.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20203m read

Diagnosing and treating the three common cranial neuralgias

In this short Medmastery article, learn the key signs and symptoms to diagnose the three common cranial neuralgias.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20203m read
Chapter 4

Completing a thorough exam for your headache patient

Every headache patient will require a full neurological examination. In these articles we’ll briefly cover the components of a complete neurological exam and we’ll look at possible neurological abnormalities that might be found upon examination. We’ll also review when it is appropriate to send your headache patient for imaging or further testing.
Chapter 5

How to approach treatment for your headache patient

Once you accurately diagnose your headache patient, they’ll require a comprehensive treatment plan. In these articles we’ll review what you need to know about non-pharmacologic management, prophylactic medication, abortive medication, and rescue medications. We’ll wrap up this Headaches Clinical Guide by reviewing some patient cases where we’ll walk you through history taking, diagnosis, and treatment.

Providing treatment options for your patient with headaches

Increase treatment success by knowing the options and setting reasonable goals for your patients with headaches.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20202m read

Migraine prophylaxis: Over-the-counter treatment options

Not sure what to prescribe your headache patient? Read about over-the-counter prophylactic treatments in this article.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20203m read

Migraine prophylaxis: Prescription treatment options

Check out this Medmastery article on prophylactic prescription medication options for your patients with migraines.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 2nd Aug 20223m read

Migraine prophylaxis: Newer options for migraine management

Newer prophylactics being explored for their potential role in migraine management include monoclonal antibodies, botulinum toxin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), serotonin antagonists,...

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 4th Dec 20203m read

Abortive treatment options for your headache patient

Learn the options for, and when to prescribe, abortive medications for managing headaches in your patients.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20203m read

Headache rescue medications and medication tolerance

Improve your patient care with this article on headache rescue medications, drug overuse, and tolerance. Read now.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20204m read

Putting your headache knowledge to practice with three clinical cases

Learn the essentials—headache characteristics, diagnosis, and treatment approaches—from real patient cases.

By Robert Coni, DO EdSLast update 26th Nov 20204m read

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