Cluster Headache Syndrome

Enrique A. Wulff, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology

Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, they are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head.

Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last from weeks to months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches stop. During remission, no headaches occur for months and sometimes even years.

In general a cluster headache strikes quickly, usually without warning, although you might first have migraine-like nausea and aura.

Patients refer an excruciating pain on one side (in or around one eye, but may radiate to other areas of your face, head, neck and shoulders) associated with restlessness, excessive tearing, redness in the eye on the affected side, stuffy or runny nose on the affected side, forehead or facial sweating, skin pallor or flushing on the face, swelling around the eye on the affected side and drooping eyelid

Patients with cluster headache, unlike those with migraine, are likely to pace or sit and rock back and forth. Some migraine-like symptoms - including sensitivity to light and sound - can occur with a cluster headache, though usually on one side.

A cluster period generally lasts from six to 12 weeks. The starting date and the duration of each cluster period might be consistent from period to period. For example, cluster periods can occur seasonally, such as every spring or every fall.

Most patients have episodic cluster headaches. In episodic cluster headaches, the headaches occur for one week to a year, followed by a pain-free remission period that can last as long as 12 months before another cluster headache develops.

Chronic cluster periods might continue for more than a year, or pain-free periods might last less than one month.

During a cluster period: headaches usually occur every day, sometimes several times a day; a single attack can last from 15 minutes to three hours; the attacks often occur at the same time each day; most attacks occur at night, usually one to two hours after going to bed.

The pain usually ends as suddenly as it began, with rapidly decreasing intensity. After attacks, most patient are pain-free, but exhausted.

Carmen Care Advance Laser Therapy has designed an specific treatment protocol for these patients which include Laser Energy Detoxification and photobiomodulation including the periorbital regions, the palate and the sphenopalatine ganglion area with a significant clinical improvement.