21 unusual headache syndromes and their demystifying checklists

Headaches constitute the bulk of what neurologists see in their general clinics. Most people with headaches fall neatly into one of two categories, migraine or tension type headache (TTH). The neurology clinic may have a sprinkling of people with cluster headache or the hemicranias, two of the more common trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias. All these headaches are easy to recognise (most of the time), and easy to treat (until things get complicated).


Lego splitting headache. Matt Brown on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonmatt/15191073177


There are other common and readily recognisable headaches in the neurology clinic. Such headaches include idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH),medication overuse headache (MOH),chronic daily headache (CDH), post dural puncture headache (PDPH), and spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH).


Headache. Threephin on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/threephin/2309047966

Several headaches are however rare and peculiar, many unheard of by many neurologists. These are the headaches which prompt the neurologist to delve into the textbooks, or phone an expert headache specialist. What are these distinctive and curious entities? Here are our 21 most unusual headaches.


Lego headache. Matt Brown on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonmatt/15190891330


Aeroplane headache

Bathing headache

Epicrania fugax

Exploding head syndrome

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia


Hypnic headache




Ice cream headache

Idiopathic stabbing headaches


Nummular headache

Occipital condyle syndrome 

Raeder’s paratrigeminal syndrome

Sexual headache


Headache. Diegoferno on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/destino2003/6689434475



Space headache

Sphenopalatine neuralgia

Sunrise-related headache

TAC-TIC syndromes

Trochlear headaches 

Yawning headache




To explore these and many other comprehensive neurology checklists…

Go online at Neurochecklists.com


Or get the book, 700 Essential Neurology Checklists

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