Hemicrania Continua in a Black Patient the Importance of the Non-Continuous Stage




A 52-year-old black female for 19 years had severe intermittent unilateral headaches that demonstrated the “clustering12 phenomenon. She was initially diagnosed as having episodic cluster headache. Response to lithium carbonate, ergotamine and courses of corticosteroids was, however, only partial. In December 1989 the headache pattern changed and she developed severe unilateral hemicranial headache that was continuous and non-remitting. This responded immediately and persistently to oral indomethacin. A diagnosis of hemicraniacontinua (HC) was made.

The initial intermittent headache syndrome appears to have been the pre-continuous stage of hemicrania continua, and not episodic cluster headache as previously supposed. The pre-continuous phase of hemicrania continua may thus masquerade as episodic cluster headache by reason of its intermittency and “clustering”. In this case, the intermittent stage was protracted. This stage may, conceivably, even be a permanent one. To our knowledge, this is the first report of hemicrania continua in a black African.