Our aim with this ABC book is to provide the reader with a clear, concise text to recognize and manage headache effectively. We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to provide current information based on best available evidence and expert specialist opinion. First we present an overall approach to headache including eliciting the history, identifying ‘red fl ags’ and current issues in investigation and management. The chapters that follow are carefully selected case studies with emphasis on history taking to establish differential diagnoses, investigations that may be required and specifi c management strategies. Although we illustrate the main primary headaches of migraine, tension-type headache, and cluster headache, we recognize that not all secondary headache types are covered.
Obvious headaches due to head trauma or infection for example, have been omitted. Instead, we have chosen common but under-recognized medication overuse headaches and headaches attributed to depression, neck pain and trigeminal neuralgia. Headaches associated with underlying cranial vascular disorder and brain tumours, although rare, are included since they are greatly feared by both patients and healthcare professionals. Individual case studies cannot address all the issues relating to a specifi c group of headache sufferers. However, we felt it was important to devote chapters on headache and associated syndromes in children and adolescents to highlight their specifi c issues. With regard to headache in the elderly, the treatments are the same as for other age groups, but the differential diagnosis is particularly important as demonstrated in the chapter on giant cell arteritis. As a quarter of all women are affected by migraine and half of them recognise an association with menstruation, we felt it was appropriate to include a case study for this group. We hope that this approach to headache refl ects presentation of headache to a wide range of healthcare professionals, helping them to improve the diagnosis and the management of this complex and challenging condition.