When cervical pain is actually migraine: An observational study in 207 patients

Michele Viana, Grazia Sances, Salvatore Terrazzino, Till Sprenger, Giuseppe Nappi, Cristina Tassorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Introduction: A large proportion of migraine patients remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in Italy. In our experience, many migraineurs self-diagnose their condition as “cervical pain attack” or “cervical pain syndrome” (CP), assuming cervical spine pathology as the cause. We aimed to phenotype and classify the headache of patients with self-diagnosed CP, and to describe this sample of patients. Methods: Consecutive patients aged 18 to 75 years, referred to the Headache Center of the Mondino Institute (Pavia, Italy) for a first visit for headache, completed a questionnaire about CP and were subsequently examined by an experienced clinician. Results: Out of 207 patients, 132 (64%) believed they suffered from CP. According to ICHD-IIIβ criteria, these patients suffered from migraine or probable migraine in 91% of cases. The great majority of patients who believed that they suffered from CP underwent unnecessary medical exams (including radiation exposure in 40% of cases) and used treatments that were inadequate for their real diagnosis. Conclusion: The majority of patients with CP suffer from typical migraine. The misdiagnosis produces an economic burden (for patients and the health care system) and leads to impaired quality of life of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-388
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Migraine
  • cervical pain
  • cervical spine
  • misdiagnosis
  • self-diagnosing
  • underdiagnosis


Dive into the research topics of 'When cervical pain is actually migraine: An observational study in 207 patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this