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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Feb 2023 - 3 Mar 2023

Basic Science

Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Feb 05

Diagnostics (Basel)




Cranial Autonomic Symptoms and Neck Pain in Differential Diagnosis of Migraine.


Vicente BN, Oliveira R, Martins IP, Gil-Gouveia R


Cranial autonomic symptoms and neck pain have been reported to be highly prevalent in migraine, although they are rarely considered in clinical evaluation. The aim of this review is to focus on the prevalence, pathophysiology, and clinical characteristics of these two symptoms, and their importance in the differential diagnosis between migraines and other headaches. The most common cranial autonomic symptoms are aural fullness, lacrimation, facial/forehead sweating, and conjunctival injection. Migraineurs experiencing cranial autonomic symptoms are more likely to have more severe, frequent, and longer attacks, as well as higher rates of photophobia, phonophobia, osmophobia, and allodynia. Cranial autonomic symptoms occur due to the activation of the trigeminal autonomic reflex, and the differential diagnosis with cluster headaches can be challenging. Neck pain can be part of the migraine prodromal symptoms or act as a trigger for a migraine attack. The prevalence of neck pain correlates with headache frequency and is associated with treatment resistance and greater disability. The convergence between upper cervical and trigeminal nociception via the trigeminal nucleus caudalis is the likely mechanism for neck pain in migraine. The recognition of cranial autonomic symptoms and neck pain as potential migraine features is important because they often contribute to the misdiagnosis of cervicogenic problems, tension-type headache, cluster headache, and rhinosinusitis in migraine patients, delaying appropriate attack and disease management.