The prevalence of cervicogenic headache in a random population sample of 20-59 year olds

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The prevalence of cervicogenic headache in a random population sample of 20-59 year olds

Nilsson N

Department of Clinical Science,
Faculty of Health Science,
University of Odense, Denmark


STUDY DESIGN:   From a random population sample, those experiencing frequent headaches were identified. They were examined to determine how many fulfilled the 1990 International Headache Society classification criteria for cervicogenic headache.

OBJECTIVE:   To estimate the prevalence of cervicogenic headache in the general population and in the group experiencing frequent headaches.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:   Only with the publication of the 1990 headache classification criteria did a generally accepted clinical definition of cervicogenic headache emerge. The prevalence of this form of headache has been estimated only in two highly selected in-clinic patient populations. No data exist regarding the prevalence in representative unselected populations.

METHODS:   A short questionnaire on headaches was mailed to 826 randomly selected residents of a midsized Danish town. A group of 57 individuals in the age range 20-59 years who reported having headache episodes on 5 or more days in the previous month were identified. Forty-five of the 57 were eventually interviewed and examined with respect to the IHS criteria for cervicogenic headache (the radiological criteria were omitted on ethical grounds).

RESULTS:   Of the 45 persons examined, eight fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for cervicogenic headache, equivalent to a prevalence in the headache group of 17.8% (95% confidence interval = 8%-32%).

CONCLUSION:   Cervicogenic headache appears to be a relatively common form of headache, similar to migraine in prevalence.

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