Iceberg Ad The National Headache Foundation has been supporting clinical and basic science research in headache and its causes for over 25 years. These grants have served as springboards to obtaining over $7 million in federal funding of headache-related research. Newer resources have facilitated the application process and the review process. Grants are now available, up to $100,000 per protocol, for research support. We are focusing the current campaign to protocols dealing with cluster headaches. This effort is supported by the Hope Schwab Fund in partnership with the National Headache Foundation.

A new study suggests people who suffer from cluster headache experience increased memory issues, more disturbances of mood, and a poorer quality of life than people without the disorder, considered to be one of the most painful headache disorders. Researchers led by Mariam Torkamani, BSc, at the Cognitive Motor Neuroscience Group at the University College of London, recently conducted a small study to learn more about the daily effects of cluster headache, which is studied less than migraine, but causes such intense pain some sufferers resort to suicide.

lidocaineMigraineurs and those who suffer from cluster headaches may find relief from the pain with the help of a new procedure that uses lidocaine, a common topical anesthetic. When evaluating the treatment, called image-guided, intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks, researchers inserted a spaghetti-sized catheter through the nasal passages of patients and administered 4% lidocaine to the sphenopalatine ganglion, a nerve bundle just behind the nose associated with migraines. This procedure was assisted with fluoroscopy, a type of imaging that could be compared to an X-ray movie.

  pepper An extract from a chili pepper plant is showing promise in the treatment of cluster headache and migraine. The extract—capsaicin, from the plant capsicum annuum—has been used as a pain reliever for centuries, and a study showing its success as treatment for headache and migraine pain was presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in late April and early May.

Headache disorders are prevalent, and while medical therapy provides relief to many headache sufferers, a significant number find their headaches unresponsive to treatment. One new therapy showing promise for such individuals is occipital nerve stimulation (ONS). A thorough review of this subject was included in the January issue of Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders. This treatment has been used with migraine, cluster headache, hemicrania continua, cervicogenic headache, post-traumatic headache, occipital neuralgia and other headache disorders.

Approved by the FDA in July, SUMAVEL DosePro is being launched this month by Zogenix in partnership with Astellas. The first-of-its-kind needle-free injection system delivers a liquid form of sumatriptan (Imitrex®) directly through the skin (subcutaneously). It is indicated for the acute treatment of migraine attacks, with or without aura, and the acute treatment of cluster headache episodes in adults.

While headache is the most common manifestation of pain in children, general practitioners have a hard time diagnosing it, according to a study reported in the journal Cephalalgia. "The needs of adult headache sufferers are often unmet, and this situation may be worse in the pediatric population, where sufferers are less likely to articulate their problem or seek help," study authors wrote.

THE CASE Lynda is a 44-year-old dental assistant who came to The New England Center for Headache in Stamford, Connecticut, with a one-week history of drooping of the right eyelid, a right-sided headache, and a diagnosis of cluster headache made by her family doctor. Her headache was intense and continuous, and her eyelid drooped more and more over the course of the week. During my examination, Lynda told me she'd had a right-sided headache six months previously that was so severe she went to an emergency room for the first time in her life. All tests, including a spinal tap, CT, MRI and MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram, used to visualize the heart, blood vessels or blood flow in the circulatory system) were normal and the headache disappeared in about a week. At that time, she did not have a drooping eyelid. The week before I saw her, however, she experienced the rapid onset of a right-sided, steady, intense pain which did not change. She gradually noticed that her eyelid was drooping. Everything was normal during my exam, except that her right eye was shut. When I lifted her eyelid and asked her to follow my light, the eye could only look to the right. This finding concerned me. I did not think she had cluster headache, though that condition can be associated with a drooping eyelid, red and tearing eye, or stuffed or running nostril all on the same side as the pain. While these “clusters” of attacks are also quite severe, they last for only a short time (about 45-60 minutes) and reoccur a number of times per day, often at the same time every day, sometimes wakening the patient in the night. Lynda's headache was constant.