Which features of headache suggest giant cell arteritis (GCA) (temporal arteritis)?

Updated: Sep 03, 2020
  • Author: Mythili Seetharaman, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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The headache of GCA has no pathognomonic features, but typically—and most importantly—the headache is either new, in a patient without a history of headaches, or of a new type, in a patient with a history of chronic headache. The headache is usually localized to the temporal or occipital area. Less often, the pain may be predominantly occipital or occipitonuchal; occasionally it is diffuse.

The headache is usually throbbing and continuous. Other descriptions of the pain include dull, boring, and burning. Focal tenderness on direct palpation is typically present. The patient may note scalp tenderness with hair combing, or with wearing a hat or eyeglasses.

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