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Sport and exercise headache: Part 2. Diagnosis and classification.
  1. S J Williams,
  2. H Nukada
  1. Department of Medicine, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand.


    A group of 129 subjects (67 men and 62 women) experiencing sports headache was established using a questionnaire. A wide range of information was gathered, focusing on the mode of onset, time course, characteristic features and associated symptoms of sports-related headache. Criteria for the varieties of sports headaches were established using head trauma and then migraine to divide subgroups of sports headaches. Cases were classified into four categories: effort migraine, trauma-triggered migraine, effort-exertion headache, and post-traumatic headache. The percentages of each sports-related headache found were: effort migraine 9%, trauma-triggered migraine 6%, effort-exertion headache 60%, post-traumatic headache 22% and miscellaneous 3%. Sports migraine accounted for 15% of the total sports headache sample. Effort-exertion headache was the most common type of sports headache. Although effort-exertion headache could be separated into subjects who had an acute severe headache induced by anaerobic exercise (exertion headache) from those having a substantial headache lasting hours initiated by aerobic exercise (effort headache), most subjects with effort-exertion headache in this study appeared not to fall into any discrete subgroups. Trauma-related headaches were experienced mainly by men in contact sports, while women more commonly had non-trauma-related headache in running and jogging.

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