Cluster headache has a characteristic type of pain and pattern of attacks. A diagnosis depends on your description of the attacks, including your pain, the location and severity of your headaches, and associated symptoms. The frequency and duration of your headaches also are important factors.
If you have chronic or recurrent headaches, your doctor may try to pinpoint the type and cause of your headache using certain approaches.
A neurological examination may help your doctor detect physical signs of a cluster headache. Sometimes the pupil of your eye may appear smaller, or your eyelid may droop, even between attacks.
If you have unusual or complicated headaches or an abnormal neurological examination, your doctor may recommend other tests to rule out other serious causes of head pain, such as a tumor or aneurysm. Common brain imaging tests include:
Jun. 04, 2013
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of your brain.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of your brain and blood vessels.
- Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- May A. Cluster headache: Epidemiology, clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- May A. Cluster headache: Acute and preventive treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0434-1..00094-3--s0015&isbn=978-1-4377-0434-1&uniqId=407506908-3#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0434-1..00094-3--s0015. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Cluster headaches. National Headache Foundation. http://www.headaches.org/education/Headache_Topic_Sheets/Cluster_Headaches. Accessed April 10, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed April 9, 2013.
- Evers S. Pharmacotherapy of cluster headache. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy. 2010;11:2121.
- Francis GJ, et al. Acute and preventive pharmacologic treatment of cluster headache. Neurology. 2010;75:463.
- Rossi P, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with cluster headache: Results of a multi-centre headache clinic survey. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2008;16:220.
- Sewell RA. Response of cluster headache to kudzu. Headache. 2009;49:98.
- Magis D, et al. Neurostimulation therapies for primary headache disorders: Present and future. Current Opinion in Neurology. 2012;25:269.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2012-2013. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Accessed April 4, 2013.