Other primary headache disorders: Data from the HEAD-MENA-A study in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East

Atalar A., Genç H., Ur Özçelik E., BELEN H. B., Uluduz D., Unal-Cevik U., ...More

Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, vol.236, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 236
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2023.108112
  • Journal Name: Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE
  • Keywords: Headache continuum, Headache prevalence, Headache trigger, Migraine, New daily persistent headache, Other primary headache disorders, Primary stabbing headache
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Objective: Other primary headache disorders (OPHD) are under-investigated compared to frequent primary headache types like migraine, tension-type headache, and trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias. Knowledge of the distribution and characteristics of OPHD subtypes is crucial for their recognition. We aimed to determine the prevalence at the hospital and headache clinics and clinical characteristics of OPHDs in patients from 13 countries. Methods: We analyzed a large dataset from the cross-sectional study Head-MENA-A (Middle East, North Africa, Asia). Consecutive patients over 10 years of age presenting with headaches were included from outpatient, inpatient, and emergency settings. A structured questionnaire addressing demographics, headache characteristics, accompanying symptoms, and triggers was administered. Headache subtypes were diagnosed according to the ICHD-3 criteria. Results: Among patients complaining of headaches (n = 3722), 106 (2.9%) were diagnosed with OPHD. Fifty-two patients (1.4% of all headache patients) had only OPHD, while 54 (1.5%) had both OPHD and a co-existing primary headache (mostly migraine). All OPHDs were more common in females. The most frequent subtypes were new daily persistent headache and primary stabbing headache (0.2% each among all admitted patients). Photophobia and phonophobia were the most frequent accompanying symptoms, while physical activity (28.8%), stress (15.4%), and the Valsalva maneuver (15.4%) were the most common triggering factors. The majority of triggering factors were more pronounced in patients with both migraine and OPHD. Conclusions: Other primary headaches are rare and heterogeneous. Their high co-existence with migraine suggests shared predisposing factors, hinting at a “headache continuum” concept for primary headaches.