The Treatment of Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias: An Overview

J Oral Facial Pain Headache. 2019;33(1):89-104. doi: 10.11607/ofph.1922.


Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias (TACs) are primary headaches that include cluster headache (CH), paroxysmal hemicrania (PH), and short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks (SUNHAs) with conjunctival injection and tearing (SUNCT) or cranial autonomic features (SUNA). Hemicrania continua (HC) is another form that has been ascribed to TACs for clinical and pathophysiologic reasons. Cluster headache is the most common of these syndromes, even if comparatively rare, with a lifetime prevalence of around 1 in 1,000. TACs share many aspects from a pathophysiologic standpoint (a hypothalamic activation may be involved in all forms initiating the attacks), but differences in attack duration and frequency and in extent of treatment response distinguish one from the other. This review focuses on the treatments currently available for these headaches according to the most recent guidelines. Due to the low frequency of most TACs, there are little data from randomized controlled trials; therefore, evidence from simple open studies in small case series or single-case observations are reported. Promising results have been recently obtained with novel modes of drug administration, invasive pericranial interventions, and different strategies such as neurostimulation. There are also some future treatments being studied at present.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Headache*
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • SUNCT Syndrome*
  • Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias*