ICD-10-CM Code R51


Version 2020 Billable Code No Valid Principal Dx Family Practice Internal Medicine Pediatrics

Valid for Submission

R51 is a billable code used to specify a medical diagnosis of headache. The code is valid for the year 2020 for the submission of HIPAA-covered transactions. The ICD-10-CM code R51 might also be used to specify conditions or terms like aching headache, acute headache, acute pain in face, aural headache, bilateral headache, c/o - a headache, etc

The code is commonly used in family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics medical specialties to specify clinical concepts such as headache.

According to ICD-10-CM guidelines this code should not to be used as a principal diagnosis code when a related definitive diagnosis has been established.

Short Description:Headache
Long Description:Headache

Tabular List of Diseases and Injuries

The Tabular List of Diseases and Injuries is a list of ICD-10 codes, organized "head to toe" into chapters and sections with guidance for inclusions, exclusions, descriptions and more. The following references are applicable to the code R51:

Inclusion Terms

Inclusion Terms
These terms are the conditions for which that code is to be used. The terms may be synonyms of the code title, or, in the case of "other specified" codes, the terms are a list of the various conditions assigned to that code. The inclusion terms are not necessarily exhaustive. Additional terms found only in the Alphabetic Index may also be assigned to a code.
  • Facial pain NOS

Type 1 Excludes

Type 1 Excludes
A type 1 excludes note is a pure excludes note. It means "NOT CODED HERE!" An Excludes1 note indicates that the code excluded should never be used at the same time as the code above the Excludes1 note. An Excludes1 is used when two conditions cannot occur together, such as a congenital form versus an acquired form of the same condition.
  • atypical face pain G50.1
  • migraine and other headache syndromes G43 G44
  • trigeminal neuralgia G50.0

Index to Diseases and Injuries

The Index to Diseases and Injuries is an alphabetical listing of medical terms, with each term mapped to one or more ICD-10 code(s). The following references for the code R51 are found in the index:


The following clinical terms are approximate synonyms or lay terms that might be used to identify the correct diagnosis code:

  • Aching headache
  • Acute headache
  • Acute pain in face
  • Aural headache
  • Bilateral headache
  • C/O - a headache
  • Chronic daily headache
  • Chronic orofacial pain
  • Chronic pain in face
  • Chronic primary orofacial pain
  • Chronic secondary facial pain
  • Craniofacial pain
  • Daily headache
  • Dental headache
  • Face ache
  • Facial tenderness
  • Frequent headache
  • Frontal headache
  • Frontal sinus pain
  • Generalized headache
  • Headache
  • Headache character - finding
  • Headache character - finding
  • Headache character - finding
  • Headache disorder
  • Headache due to cold exposure
  • Headache due to external compression of head
  • Headache due to high altitude
  • Headache due to intracranial disease
  • Headache due to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  • Headache following myelography
  • Headache site
  • Heavy head
  • Hindbrain hernia headache
  • Intermittent headache
  • Low pressure headache
  • Low pressure headache
  • Low pressure headache
  • Maxillary sinus pain
  • Morning headache
  • Muscular headache
  • Nasal headache
  • O/E -frontal sinus pain
  • Obstetric spinal and epidural anesthesia-induced headache
  • Occipital headache
  • On examination - maxillary sinus pain
  • Orthostatic headache
  • Pain in cheek
  • Pain in chin
  • Pain in face
  • Pain of head and neck region
  • Pain radiating to head
  • Parietal headache
  • Post dural puncture headache
  • Post dural puncture headache
  • Post-ictal state
  • Postpartum headache
  • Postseizure headache
  • Postural headache
  • Referred pain
  • Referred pain in face
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Shooting headache
  • Shooting pain
  • Sinus headache
  • Skin tenderness
  • Temporal headache
  • Tenderness of head and neck region
  • Tenderness of respiratory structure
  • Tenderness of respiratory structure
  • Tenderness over frontal sinus
  • Tenderness over maxillary sinus
  • Throbbing headache
  • Throbbing pain
  • Unilateral headache
  • Viral headache

Clinical Information

  • CLUSTER HEADACHE-. a primary headache disorder that is characterized by severe strictly unilateral pain which is orbital supraorbital temporal or in any combination of these sites lasting 15 180 min. occurring 1 to 8 times a day. the attacks are associated with one or more of the following all of which are ipsilateral: conjunctival injection lacrimation nasal congestion rhinorrhea facial sweating eyelid edema and miosis. international classification of headache disorders 2nd ed. cephalalgia 2004: suppl 1
  • HEADACHE-. the symptom of pain in the cranial region. it may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders.
  • MIGRAINE DISORDERS-. a class of disabling primary headache disorders characterized by recurrent unilateral pulsatile headaches. the two major subtypes are common migraine without aura and classic migraine with aura or neurological symptoms. international classification of headache disorders 2nd ed. cephalalgia 2004: suppl 1
  • VASCULAR HEADACHES-. secondary headache disorders attributed to a variety of cranial or cervical vascular disorders such as brain ischemia; intracranial hemorrhages; and central nervous system vascular malformations.
  • TENSION TYPE HEADACHE-. a common primary headache disorder characterized by a dull non pulsatile diffuse band like or vice like pain of mild to moderate intensity in the head; scalp; or neck. the subtypes are classified by frequency and severity of symptoms. there is no clear cause even though it has been associated with muscle contraction and stress. international classification of headache disorders 2nd ed. cephalalgia 2004: suppl 1
  • HEADACHE DISORDERS-. various conditions with the symptom of headache. headache disorders are classified into major groups such as primary headache disorders based on characteristics of their headache symptoms and secondary headache disorders based on their etiologies. international classification of headache disorders 2nd ed. cephalalgia 2004: suppl 1
  • HEADACHE DISORDERS PRIMARY-. conditions in which the primary symptom is headache and the headache cannot be attributed to any known causes.
  • HEADACHE DISORDERS SECONDARY-. conditions with headache symptom that can be attributed to a variety of causes including brain vascular disorders; wounds and injuries; infection; drug use or its withdrawal.
  • POST TRAUMATIC HEADACHE-. secondary headache attributed to trauma of the head and/or the neck.
  • POST DURAL PUNCTURE HEADACHE-. a secondary headache disorder attributed to low cerebrospinal fluid pressure caused by spinal puncture usually after dural or lumbar puncture.

Diagnostic Related Groups

The ICD-10 code R51 is grouped in the following groups for version MS-DRG V37.0 What are Diagnostic Related Groups?
The Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs) are a patient classification scheme which provides a means of relating the type of patients a hospital treats. The DRGs divides all possible principal diagnoses into mutually exclusive principal diagnosis areas referred to as Major Diagnostic Categories (MDC).
applicable from 10/01/2019 through 09/30/2020.


Convert R51 to ICD-9

  • 784.0 - Headache (Approximate Flag)

Code Classification

  • Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00–R99)
    • General symptoms and signs (R50-R69)
      • Headache (R51)

Code History

  • FY 2016 - New Code, effective from 10/1/2015 through 9/30/2016
    (First year ICD-10-CM implemented into the HIPAA code set)
  • FY 2017 - No Change, effective from 10/1/2016 through 9/30/2017
  • FY 2018 - No Change, effective from 10/1/2017 through 9/30/2018
  • FY 2019 - No Change, effective from 10/1/2018 through 9/30/2019
  • FY 2020 - No Change, effective from 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020

Information for Patients


Almost everyone has had a headache. Headache is the most common form of pain. It's a major reason people miss days at work or school or visit the doctor.

The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don't get enough sleep, miss meals, or use alcohol.

Other common types of headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches. Most people can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax and taking pain relievers.

Not all headaches require a doctor's attention. But sometimes headaches warn of a more serious disorder. Let your health care provider know if you have sudden, severe headaches. Get medical help right away if you have a headache after a blow to your head, or if you have a headache along with a stiff neck, fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, or pain in the eye or ear.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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