Diagnosing Cluster Headache

November 9, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Diagnosing Cluster Headache

Diagnosing Cluster Headache

I have mentioned before that diagnosing headache can be difficult and that many headache sufferers on their journey have been given more than one diagnosis. I recently came across some statistics, which although were in relation to diagnosing Cluster Headache, illustrate the complexities and frustrations of headache and migraine diagnosis.

Klapper et al1 using an internet survey investigated the process of diagnosing Cluster Headache. It was revealed that there was an average of 6.6 years’ delay in correct diagnosis. Eighty-seven per cent of Cluster Headache sufferers met the International Headache Society’s criteria for Cluster Headache (and should have been diagnosed by the first physician); an average of 4.3 physicians were seen and an average 3.9 incorrect diagnoses made before diagnosis of Cluster Headache and because of incorrect initial diagnosis, 4% of patients underwent unnecessary surgery.

I find this hard to comprehend. Cluster Headache, because of the redness of the eye and nasal symptoms, is easily recognised.



(Klapper JA, Klapper A, Voss T. The misdiagnosis of cluster headache: a nonclinic, population-based, internet survey. Headache 2000; 40:730–5.)

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About dean
Consultant Headache & Migraine Physiotherapist; International Teacher; Director, The Headache Clinic & Watson Headache Institute; PhD Candidate Murdoch University, Western Australia; Adjunct Lecturer, Masters Program, Physiotherapy School, University of South Australia; MAppSc(Res) GradDipAdvManipTher Experienced health practitioners trained in the Watson Headache Approach perform the examination and treatment techniques developed by Dean Watson. These techniques are based on his extensive experience of 7000 headache patients (21,000 hours) over 21 years and are now taught internationally. For your nearest practitioner who has completed training in the ‘Watson Headache Approach’ please refer to the ‘Practitioner Directory’.

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