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Pain. 1994 Dec;59(3):321-5.

Preventative effect of repeated nasal applications of capsaicin in cluster headache.

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Institute of Internal Medicine VI, University La Sapienza Rome, Italy.


Preliminary studies have shown that repeated nasal applications of capsaicin prevented the occurrence of cluster headache attacks. The present study was designed to verify the difference in efficacy of treatment with nasal capsaicin, depending on the side of application. Fifty-two patients affected by episodic form were divided into 2 groups, one receiving the treatment on the same side where the attacks occurred (ipsilateral side), the other on the controlateral side. Eighteen patients with a chronic form alternately received both ipsilateral and controlateral treatments. Seventy percent of the episodic patients, treated on the ipsilateral side, showed a marked amelioration whereas no improvement was noted in the patients treated on the contralateral side. The efficacy of ipsilateral treatment was emphasized by the results obtained in chronic patients. However, in these patients, the maximum period of amelioration lasted no more than 40 days. The difference between the effects of the 2 treatments (contralateral and ipsilateral) was statistically significant in both episodic and chronic sufferers. The efficacy of repeated nasal applications of capsaicin in cluster headache is congruent with previous reports on the therapeutic effect of capsaicin in other pain syndromes (post-herpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, trigeminal neuralgia) and supports the use of the drug to produce a selective analgesia.

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