Harry Potter's Headache


  • Knut Hagen MD, PhD

    1. Norwegian National Headache Centre, St. Olav's Hospital, and
      Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine,
      Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
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In the interesting and enjoyable article about Harry Potter's headache, supraorbital neuralgia was not mentioned among several potential headache diagnoses.1 The prevalence of supraorbital neuralgia is probably not that rare, and estimated to be 0.5% in a adult Muggle population.2 The diagnostic criteria listed in 13.6 in International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition includes paroxysmal or constant pain in the territory of the supraorbital nerve.3 In accordance, Harry's recurrent very intense pain was mainly restricted to his scar localized just above the medial part of the left orbit. Harry got the scar as an infant, but developed recurrent pain first at age 11. However, the prominent scar, easily recognized by other wizards and witches, may at least theoretically generate new problems by increasing age,4 and as a consequence, having an impact on the pain speculatively mediated by the underlying supraorbital nerve.5

Harry Potter did not fulfill the 13.6 diagnosis of supraorbital neuralgia because relief by an anesthetic blockade is required. Fortunately for Harry, he never visited a medical doctor, a supraorbital nerve blockade was not performed, and he did not meet a neurosurgery that insisted to perform surgical treatment because of an intractable supraorbital neuralgia. Despite that, a favorable long-term course of Harry Potter's scar pain was reported in the last book.