SUNCT Syndrome

WHAT IS IT AND HOW IS IT TREATED?

man with SUNCT syndrome

If you have a headache that often feels like a burst of pain just behind the eye or the temple and occurs multiple times a day, you may have SUNCT Syndrome. While this condition is rare, it can often be misdiagnosed as another form of headache or trigeminal neuralgia.

 

SUNCT (Short-lasting Unilateral Neuralgiform Headache Attacks with Conjunctival Injection and Tearing) is considered to be a rare primary headache syndrome that is classified as being one of the trigeminal autonomic headache syndromes along with cluster headaches and paroxysmal hemicranias.

Symptoms

While symptoms can vary, people suffering from SUNCT Syndrome report:

  • Throbbing, burning, or piercing pain
  • Usually one-sided surrounding eye or extending into the temple
  • Quick, burst-like onset
  • Episodic and generally following a pattern
  • Episodes are short (seconds to minutes)
  • Attacks typically occur during the daytime

 

Accompanying symptoms may include:

  • Watering or bloodshot eyes
  • Forehead or facial flushing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Forehead or facial sweating
  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • A rise in systolic blood pressure

Treatment

Typically, this syndrome is also characterized by its unresponsiveness to traditional methods of treating short-lasting headaches. When medications such as anticonvulsants fail, procedures such as trigeminal microvascular decompression, occipital nerve stimulation, or Gamma Knife Radiosurgery can help. Your neurosurgeon will work with you to find the best treatment to help relieve your symptoms.

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