Greater Occipital Nerve Injection versus Oral Steroids for Short Term Prophylaxis of Cluster Headache: A Retrospective Comparative Study

Jerry Wei, Matthew S. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate our experience with oral steroid and greater occipital nerve (GON) injection with steroid as transitional treatments for cluster headache. Background: Cluster headache is a primary headache disorder characterized by multiple episodes of intense unilateral pain with autonomic features. During cluster headache attacks, transitional therapies are useful while prophylactic dosages are initiated or increased. There are limited data comparing the efficacy of oral versus injected transitional treatments. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed charts for patients evaluated with cluster headache at our center and captured episodes of transitional therapy utilized from 1995 to 2014. Treatment benefit was categorized into complete, partial, or no response. Results: Forty-three patients received transitional therapy over a total of 151 encounters, of which 140 were available for analysis. Encounters featured oral steroids (81, 57.9%) and GON injection (59, 42.1%). Of the 40 patients with treatment response data available, 24 patients received only one type of transitional therapy and 16 patients received both therapies. More encounters featuring oral steroids versus GON injections led to at least a partial response (82.7% vs 64.4%) and to a lesser extent a complete response (50.6% vs 35.6%). Among 16 patients treated with both therapies, 8 (50%) responded to both and 6 (37.5%) responded only to oral steroids. Conclusions: Our single-center, retrospective data suggest the majority of patients with cluster headache responded to both prednisone and GON injections for transitional treatment, with a higher response to oral steroids. Our results may inform study design for a randomized trial, which is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-858
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • bridge
  • cluster headache
  • greater occipital nerve injection
  • prophylaxis
  • steroid
  • transitional therapy
  • trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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