(See also Overview of Headache Overview of Headache A headache is pain in any part of the head, including the scalp, upper neck, face, and interior of the head. Headaches are one of the most common reasons people visit a doctor. Headaches interfere... read more .)
Because of their similarities, SUNCT and cluster headaches Cluster Headaches A cluster headache causes severe pain that is felt at the temple or around the eye on one side of the head and that lasts a relatively short time (usually 30 minutes to 1 hour). It is accompanied... read more are often grouped together as trigeminal autonomic cephalgias. Trigeminal autonomic cephalgias also include chronic paroxysmal hemicrania, and hemicrania continua—all very rare disorders.
Usually, pain occurs around the eye on one side of the head. People may have up to 200 bouts of pain a day, and the pain may last from 5 seconds to over 4 minutes. The affected eye is red (called conjunctival injection) and frequently waters (tears).
Doctors diagnose SUNCT based on symptoms. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is done to rule out other causes.
Lidocaine (an anesthetic) is given intravenously to relieve immediate pain.
To prevent attacks, doctors may give people antiseizure drugs (such as lamotrigine, topiramate, or gabapentin) or inject drugs to block or stimulate the nerve that supplies the affected eye (optic nerve).