Headache and Facial Pain in Sickle Cell Disease

Angeliki Vgontzas, Larry Charleston, Matthew S. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Children and adolescents with sickle cell disease (SCD) have a high prevalence of recurrent headaches (24.0–43.9 %). Acute presentation with headache can be diagnostically challenging, as the clinician must consider evaluation of several potentially devastating conditions including vascular diseases (stroke, hemorrhage, venous sinus thrombosis, moyamoya, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome), facial and orbital bone infarcts, dental pain, and osteomyelitis. Patients with SCD and primary headache disorders may benefit from comprehensive headache treatment plans that include abortive therapy, prophylactic therapy, and non-pharmacological modalities. Although there is limited data in adults, those with SCD are at risk for medication overuse headache secondary to frequent opioid use. Addressing headache in patients with SCD may help to reduce their use of opioids and disability and improve pain and quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent pain and headache reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Abortive treatment
  • Facial pain
  • Headache
  • Medication overuse
  • Prophylactic treatment
  • Sickle cell disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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