Treatment of childhood headaches

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2001 Mar;1(2):144-54. doi: 10.1007/s11910-001-0010-1.


Migraine and tension-type headaches are two of the most common types of primary headache disorders in children. Migraine is a primary central nervous system disorder characterized by triggered or spontaneous episodes of activation of trigemino-vascular complex, neurogenic inflammation around vessels and meninges, and stimulation of the peripheral and central pain pathways of the trigemino-cervical complex. The triptans, by their selective agonistic action on 5-HT1B/1D receptors, are very effective in the treatment of migraine pain and associated symptoms. Early studies on the safety and efficacy of triptans in the management of childhood migraine show encouraging results. We propose a stratified-care model for the management of migraine in children, and discuss pharmacotherapy based on the pathophysiologic mechanisms of migraine pain. Management of tension-type headaches requires comprehensive medical and psychologic evaluation and an individualized approach for a successful outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dihydroergotamine / therapeutic use
  • Dopamine Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Headache / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Meninges / blood supply
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Patient Care Management
  • Prostaglandin Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1B
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1D
  • Receptors, Serotonin / drug effects
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Tension-Type Headache / drug therapy
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiopathology
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • HTR1B protein, human
  • Prostaglandin Antagonists
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1B
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1D
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Dihydroergotamine