Migraine and Cluster Headache: Differences and Similarities

  • Fu-Chi Yang
  • Todd J. Schwedt
  • Shuu-Jiun WangEmail author
Part of the Headache book series (HEAD)


Migraine and cluster headache (CH) are complex disorders characterized by recurrent episodes of headache. Although the two are regarded as distinct primary headache disorders, the clinical boundaries between CH and migraine are sometimes poorly defined, and there can be considerable overlap between the characteristics of the two headache types. Given the inherent clinical variability in these two headache disorders, it is likely that some patients will exhibit overlapping symptoms of CH and migraine. Although the pathogenesis of these two headache disorders remains to be fully understood, accumulating evidence suggests important roles for the trigeminovascular system and release of sensory neuropeptides. Neuroimaging studies have suggested a potential role of the dorsolateral pons, hypothalamus, and trigeminal nucleus caudalis in generating migraine attacks, while the hypothalamus is firmly implicated in the pathophysiology of CH. Additionally, some treatments may be effective for both migraine and CH, further supporting the notion that their pathophysiology may overlap. In this chapter, we review the clinical and pathophysiological differences and similarities between migraine and CH, highlighting the need for further research regarding the mechanisms underlying such differences and similarities.


Cluster headache Migraine Pain Pathophysiology Autonomic symptoms Neuroimaging 



Cluster headache


International Classification of Headache Disorders 3rd edition


Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia


Cranial autonomic symptoms


Cortical spreading depression


Deep brain stimulation


International Headache Society


Greater occipital nerve


Trigeminocervical complex


Calcitonin gene-related peptide


Nitric oxide


Neurokinin A


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy


Functional magnetic resonance imaging


Functional connectivity


Voxel-based morphometry


Gray matter volume


Diffusion tensor imaging


White matter


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fu-Chi Yang
    • 1
  • Todd J. Schwedt
    • 2
  • Shuu-Jiun Wang
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyTri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical CenterTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyMayo ClinicPhoenixUSA
  3. 3.Brain Research CenterNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Faculty of Medicine, School of MedicineNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Neurological InstituteTaipei Veterans General HospitalTaipeiTaiwan

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