Headache: insight, understanding, treatment and patient management

Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2013 Jan:(178):33-6. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.12049.


Tension-type headache and migraine are the most frequent primary headaches. Diagnosis is based on the patient's history and a normal neurological examination. Most patients with these two headache entities treat headache episodes with over-the-counter analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There is good scientific evidence from randomised, placebo-controlled trials indicating that aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, diclofenac and naproxen are effective in tension-type and migraine headache. Paracetamol seems to be less effective. In patients with migraine who do not respond to analgesics or NSAIDs, triptans should be prescribed. Frequent primary headaches should not be treated with frequent intake of analgesics or triptans. In these cases, preventive therapy needs to be implemented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / classification
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal* / classification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal* / therapeutic use
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Medication Therapy Management
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Nonprescription Drugs / pharmacology
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Measurement
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tension-Type Headache / diagnosis
  • Tension-Type Headache / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tryptamines / therapeutic use*


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Tryptamines