Chronic daily headache. How should it be included in the IHS classification?

Giuseppe Nappi, Franco Granella, Giorgio Sandrini, Gian Camillo Manzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of patients attending specialty headache centers complain of very frequent, almost continuous or continuous headaches, which are usually grouped together under the term chronic daily headache, a category which does not appear in the International Headache Society (IHS) classification. On the basis of the IHS criteria, these patients can only be classified as having a chronic tension-type headache with the possible addition of migraine, if migrainous attacks are superimposed on the 'background' headache. However, several studies have demonstrated that most patients with chronic daily headache originally suffered from migraine and that their migraine has transformed, in the course of time, into a chronic headache picture in which isolated migraine attacks may or may not persist. Despite some differences in the personal opinions of authors involved in the care of patients with chronic daily headache, some views seem to be generally accepted: (1) the great majority of chronic daily headaches are transformations of an original episodic migraine and cannot be included in the chronic tension-type headache category, (2) the current IHS classification does not allow many patients presenting with chronic daily headache to be classified correctly, (3) an important nosological category (transformed migraine) has emerged from all the studies on this subject, (4) it is impossible to diagnose transformed migraine merely by 'photographing' the picture of single attacks. Although some theoretical problems remain unresolved, it seems to us that the next revision of the IHS classification can no longer ignore the existence of chronic daily headache.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-203
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Chronic daily headache
  • Classification
  • Transformed migraine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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