Hemicrania Continua

Hemicrania continua is a chronic form of headache marked by continuous pain that varies in severity and always occurs on the same side of the face and head. Superimposed on the continuous but fluctuating pain are occasional attacks of more severe pain.

This disorder is more common in women than in men. Physical exertion and alcohol use may increase the severity of headache pain in some patients. The cause of this disorder is unknown.

The headache may last from minutes to days. Symptoms fall into two main categories:


  • Runny nose
  • Tearing
  • Eye redness
  • Eye discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Swollen and drooping eyelids


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

The disorder has two forms: chronic, with daily headaches, and remitting, where headaches may occur for a period as long as 6 months and are followed by a pain-free period of weeks to months until they recur. Most patients experience attacks of increased pain three to five times per 24-hour cycle.

Individuals may obtain complete to near-complete relief of symptoms with proper medical attention and daily medication.

Indomethacin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), usually provides rapid relief from symptoms. Some people may not be able to tolerate long-term use of indomethacin and may have to rely on less effective NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, celecoxib, and naproxen. Amitriptyline and other tricyclic antidepressants are effective in some individuals.