Although head and/or neck pain attributed to orthostatic hypotension is included in international guidelines, its mechanisms and relevance remain unknown. This study examined the term’s relevance and aimed to elucidate the associated clinical features.
An active stand test was performed to evaluate fluctuations in systemic and cerebral circulation in children and adolescents reporting complaints in the absence of a confirmed organic disorder. The subjects were categorized based on orthostatic headache presence/absence, and their characteristics and test results were compared.
Postural tachycardia syndrome was observed in 50.0% of children with, and 55.1% without, orthostatic headache. For orthostatic hypotension, the respective values were 31.3% and 30.6%. A history of migraine was more prevalent in children with orthostatic headaches (64.1% vs. 28.6%; < 0.01). The observed decrease in the cerebral oxygenated hemoglobin level was larger in children with orthostatic headaches (Left: 6.3 (3.2-9.4) vs. 4.1 (0.8-6.1); < 0.01, Right: 5.3 (3.1-8.6) vs. 4.0 (0.8-5.9); < 0.01).
Fluctuations in cerebral blood flow were associated with orthostatic headaches in children, suggesting that the headaches are due to impaired intracranial homeostasis. As orthostatic headache can have multiple causes, the term “head and/or neck pain attributed to orthostatic (postural) hypotension” should be replaced with a more inclusive term.