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Headache in children: Approach to evaluation and general management strategies

Authors
Daniel J Bonthius, MD, PhD
Andrew G Lee, MD
Andrew D Hershey, MD, PhD, FAHS
Section Editors
Jan E Drutz, MD
Marc C Patterson, MD, FRACP
Jerry W Swanson, MD, MHPE
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD

INTRODUCTION

Headache (commonly thought of as pain located above the orbitomeatal line) is one of the most common complaints in children and adolescents. The prevalence increases with age. Headaches can be classified as primary (those intrinsic to the nervous system) and secondary (those with a cause and effect relationship to a specific cause). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version) (ICHD-3b) provides detailed diagnostic criteria for primary headaches, secondary headaches, and facial pain disorders [1]. Children who complain of headache usually are brought to medical attention by their parents, due to missing school or social activity or concerns of an ominous etiology such as a brain tumor or an untreatable cause. The first step in evaluation is a thorough history, physical, and neurologic examination. If these are abnormal or suspicious for a secondary etiology, additional diagnostic testing is performed.

An overview of the causes, evaluation, and management of headache in children will be presented here. The emergent evaluation of headache in children, specific primary headache syndromes in children, and headache related to exertion are discussed separately:

(See "Emergent evaluation of headache in children".)

(See "Classification of migraine in children".)

(See "Pathophysiology, clinical features, and diagnosis of migraine in children".)

                           

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Tue Aug 18 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2015.
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