JOURNAL ARTICLE

The art of history-taking in a headache patient

K Ravishankar
Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology 2012, 15 (Suppl 1): S7-S14
23024567
Headache is a common complaint that makes up for approximately 25% of any neurologists outpatient practice. Yet, it is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Ninety percent of headaches seen in practice are due to a primary headache disorder where there are no confirmatory tests, and neuroimaging studies, if done, are normal. In this situation, a good headache history allows the physician to recognize a pattern that in turn leads to the correct diagnosis. A comprehensive history needs time, interest, focus and establishment of rapport with the patient. When to ask what question to elicit which information, is an art that is acquired by practice and improves with experience. This review discusses the art of history-taking in headache patients across different settings. The nuances of headache history-taking are discussed in detail, particularly the questions related to the time, severity, location and frequency of the headache syndrome in general and the episode in particular. An emphasis is made on the recognition of red flags that help in the identification of secondary headaches.

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