Nonsurgical Treatment of Neuralgia and Cervicogenic Headache: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Merel H.J. Hazewinkel, Thijs Bink, Caroline A. Hundepool, Liron S. Duraku, J. Michiel Zuidam*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Extracranial compression of peripheral sensory nerves is one of many origins of chronic headaches. Identifying these patients can be difficult, and they are often diagnosed with neuralgia or cervicogenic headache. The recent literature provides the outcomes of surgical decompression in patients with these headaches. This study aimed to give an overview of the current literature on the nonsurgical treatment options and to evaluate the effectiveness of these treatments in patients with neuralgia and cervicogenic headache. Methods: Databases were searched to identify all published clinical studies investigating nonsurgical treatment outcomes in patients with neuralgia or cervicogenic headaches. Studies that reported numerical pain scores, nonnumerical pain scores, headache-free days, or the number of adverse events after nonsurgical treatment were included. Results: A total of 22 articles were included in qualitative analysis. The majority of studies included patients who received injection therapy. Treatment with oral analgesics achieved good results in only 2.5% of the patients. Better outcomes were reported in patients who received local anesthetics injection (79%) and corticosteroid injection (87%). Treatment with botulinum toxin injection yielded the highest percentage of good results (97%; 95% CI, 0.81-1.00). The duration of headache relief after injection therapy varied from 30 minutes to 5 months. Conclusions: The nonsurgical treatment of patients with neuralgia or cervicogenic headache is challenging. Injection therapy in patients with these types of headaches achieved good pain relief but only for a limited time. Surgical decompression may result in long-lasting pain relief and might be a more sustainable treatment option.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE4412
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2022

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