A Historical Review of Headaches: Who First Described Them and When did This Occur?

Wallyson Pablo de Oliveira Souza; Patrick Mesquita Sousa-Santos; Raimundo Pereira Silva-Néto, MD, MSc, PhD


Headache. 2020;60(8):1535-1541. 

In This Article

Painful Cranial Neuropathies

Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic headache is caused by a disorder of the cervical spine and its component bony, disc, and/or soft tissue elements, usually but not invariably accompanied by neck pain.[3] The term cervicogenic headache was first introduced to the medical literature by Sjaastad et al. in 1983, who described patients with a headache not classified by diagnostic criteria at that time.[47]

Neck-tongue Syndrome

Neck-Tongue syndrome is a relatively rare headache disorder characterized by brief attacks of neck and/or occipital pain that is brought out by abrupt head turning and accompanied by ipsilateral symptoms in the tongue.[3,48] It was first described in 1962 by the British orthopedist James Henry Cyriax (1904–1985),[49] but the first detailed neuroanatomical explanation was provided by Lance and Anthony in 1980.[50]

Tolosa-hunt Syndrome

Tolosa-Hunt syndrome was first described by Spanish neurologist Eduardo Tolosa (1900–1981) in 1954[51] and by American neurologist William Edward Hunt (1921–1999) in 1961.[52] This pathology affects mainly adults, over 20 years of age and it is described as an orbital or periorbital pain associated with paresis of 1 or more of the IIIrd, IVth, and/or VIth cranial nerves caused by granulomatous inflammation in the cavernous sinus, superior orbital fissure or orbit.[3]

Paratrigeminal Oculosympathetic (Raeder's) Syndrome

Paratrigeminal oculosympathetic (Raeder's) syndrome was first described in 1918 by the Norwegian ophthalmologist Johan Georg Raeder (1889–1959). He used the expression "paratrigeminal" due to a belief that the lesion site would be in the vicinity of Gasser's ganglion or in the ganglion itself.[53,54] It is described as a constant and unilateral pain in the distribution of the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve, sometimes extending to the maxillary division, accompanied by ipsilateral Horner's syndrome and caused by a disorder in the middle cranial fossa or of the carotid artery.[3]

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome is characterized by an intraoral burning or dysesthesia sensation, recurring daily for more than 2 hours/day over more than 3 months, without clinically evident causative lesions.[3] In 1803, the French anatomist Antoine Portal was the first author to describe a prolonged, severe, continuous pain of the tongue in a patient, "without any alteration," which might correspond to this syndrome.[55] This description paved the way for the study of language sensitivity.