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Have you ever heard of “suicide headaches”?

Cluster headaches normally cause pain around, behind or above the eye.

The name of “suicide headaches” actually came from the excruciating pain cluster headaches can inflict. Cluster headaches are quite rare, and affects about 0.1-0.4% of the population. Men are around 5 times more likely to be affected than women.


Research has shown that the primary contributing factor of cluster headaches is due to a disorder originated from the neck. A fault in the upper cervical spine results in a sensitised brainstem, which induces cluster headaches.


The duration of cluster headaches do not last long, but occur in ‘clusters’, usually ranging between 8 times everyday to once every second day. Some may continue to experience symptoms over the course of several weeks, whilst there may be ‘remissions’ from headaches within weeks or months.

Location of symptoms

Many sufferers of cluster headaches reported the pain is usually on:

  • one side of the head
  • around/behind/above the eye
  • temporal region

Associated symptoms

Besides the intense pain, some may experience other symptoms. These may include:

  • red and watery eye
  • swollen or drooped eyelid
  • runny or congested nose
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • aura

What can I do to help with my headache?

There are medications and injections available to treat cluster headaches. However, it is very important for sufferers of cluster headaches to find the cause of their symptoms.

At the Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic, thorough examination of the upper cervical spine is performed to determine whether the brainstem is sensitised, and the severity of this. In the case of determining a sensitised brainstem, treatment is commenced.

Treatments have shown significant and rapid improvements in 90% of our patients within the first six consultations.

Our clinicians treat non-invasively, and without the use of medication.

Imagine living a life free from headaches and migraines!


Cluster headaches: Painful but treatable, preventable. (2016). ScienceDaily. Retrieved 10 June 2017, from

Fletcher J (2015) Why Cluster Headaches Are Called “Suicide Headaches”. J Neurol Stroke 3(3): 00092. DOI: 10.15406/jnsk.2015.02.00092

Watson, D.H. and Drummond, P.D. (2014). Cervical Referral of Head Pain in Migraineurs: Effects on the Nociceptive Blink Reflex. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 54(6), pp.1035-1045.

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