Classification and Diagnosis of Primary Headache Disorders

Semin Neurol. 2022 Aug;42(4):406-417. doi: 10.1055/a-1954-3937. Epub 2022 Oct 3.


Proper diagnosis is the key to successful management of headache disorders. Separating secondary causes from primary headache disorders is a necessary first step, followed by further refinement within these broader categories. For research into the physiological and pathophysiological underpinnings of headache disorders, distinguishing headache types and subtypes is even more crucial. Thus, classification of headache types is required in clinical work and research in headache medicine. This article will provide an overview of the guiding philosophy behind the International Classification of Headache Disorders, a guide to its use in diagnosing primary headache disorders, and a review of important diagnostic features of the primary headaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / etiology
  • Headache Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Headache Disorders, Primary* / diagnosis
  • Humans