What is paroxysmal hemicrania?

Paroxysmal hemicrania is a rare form of headache that usually begins in adulthood. Patients experience a severe throbbing, clawlike, or boring pain usually on one side of the face; in, around, or behind the eye; and occasionally on the back of the neck. This pain may be accompanied by red and tearing eyes, a drooping or swollen eyelid on the affected side of the face, and nasal congestion. Patients may also feel dull pain, soreness, or tenderness between attacks. Attacks of paroxysmal hemicrania typically occur from 5 times to 40 times per day and last for 2-45 minutes. Paroxysmal hemicrania has two forms-chronic, in which patients experience attacks on a daily basis for a year or more, and episodic, in which headaches may remit for months or years. Certain movements of the head or the neck or external pressure to the neck may trigger these headaches in some patients. Paroxysmal hemicrania is more common in women than in men.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Paroxysmal hemicrania is a rare variation of cluster headache. The two disorders are nearly identical, but paroxysmal hemicrania attacks are shorter (lasting 10 to 30 minutes) and more frequent (five to 15 times a day). The condition is much more common in women.

Scientists believe that paroxysmal hemicrania and cluster headache are distinct entities, despite their similarity, because they respond differently to medications. Like cluster headache, paroxysmal hemicrania is easy to treat. Indomethacin (Indocin), a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), works swiftly. The required dose varies, but indomethacin doesn't lose effectiveness over time. On the other hand, it offers little benefit for cluster headache.

Continue Learning about Headache

What Causes Headaches After Sex and Exercise?
What Causes Headaches After Sex and Exercise?
Q. What could be giving me throbbing headaches when I have sex? I've also experienced this during the last few reps of a total weight workout. The pai...
Read More
What are non-drug treatments for headaches?
Dr. Steven A. Meyers, MDDr. Steven A. Meyers, MD
There are several non-medication treatments that help some patients with headaches. Sleep is a very ...
More Answers
8 Surprising Migraine Triggers
8 Surprising Migraine Triggers8 Surprising Migraine Triggers8 Surprising Migraine Triggers8 Surprising Migraine Triggers
See if you recognize any of these unusual triggers.
Start Slideshow
Is Caffeine a Common Ingredient in Pain Relievers?
Is Caffeine a Common Ingredient in Pain Relievers?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.