Headache in the emergency department

Carrie E. Robertson, David F. Black, Jerry W. Swanson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Headache is the fourth most common reason for adult patients to present to the emergency department. Approximately two-thirds of these visits are for primary headache disorders, such as migraine, cluster, and tensiontype headache. When evaluating a patient with headache in the emergency department, the physician must first decide if the headache represents a primary headache disorder or whether there is some other underlying etiology. Once a serious cause for headache has been excluded, the physician can focus on pain management. The first half of this chapter discusses the differential and diagnostic work-up of headaches with potentially dangerous etiologies. The last half addresses management strategies for primary headache disorders, with special focus on prolonged and intractable migraine headaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEmergency Neurology
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780387885858
ISBN (Print)9780387885841
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Emergency department
  • Emergency room
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Migraine management
  • Pregnancy headache
  • Primary headache
  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction
  • Secondary headache
  • Status migrainosus
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Thunderclap headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Headache in the emergency department'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this