Patients with headache immediately following trauma should of course be evaluated by a physician or in the emergency room, but chronic headaches resulting from previous trauma are unfortunately quite common. Such headaches may arise following an episode of head or neck trauma and can be an unrelenting reminder of such traumatic events.

There are almost 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries in the united states every year, and the most common complaint following these injuries is headache. The most common post-traumatic headache resembles a migraine headache with a similar array of symptoms and distribution of pain. While many patients experience spontaneous resolution of their post-traumatic headache in the months following their trauma, a persistent post-traumatic headache can be a debilitating condition. Other post-concussion symptoms may cloud the diagnosis and treatment of chronic head pain.

These headaches can be caused by a variety of post-traumatic problems, but a subset of these patients have headaches following an injury mechanism such as whiplash or other sudden movement. These injuries can cause inflammation or constriction of the nerves in the head, back of the neck, or base of the skull. These post-traumatic headache patients can often be helped by surgical release of these nerves.

FAQs: POST TRAUMATIC HEADACHES

  • Do post-traumatic headaches happen immediately?

    In many cases migraines caused from trauma begin shortly or immediately after the initial injury, though this is not always the case.
  • What causes post-traumatic headaches?

    These headaches can be caused by a variety of issues, some acute and some that can be chronic in nature. Head pain immediately after an injury needs to be evaluated to rule out intra-cranial bleeding (bleeding in or near the brain) and this is usually done with CT or MRI scans in the emergency room. Once these emergent problems are ruled out, longer term migraines can come from tightening of the muscles of the head and neck that can eventually turn into tight scar tissue, or this pain can come from a sudden stretching of the nerve itself that results in chronic inflammation.
  • What makes migraine surgery helpful in post-traumatic headaches?

    After ruling out of the emergent causes of headaches, the muscle tightness, tissue scarring, and chronic nerve inflammation can often be released by allowing the nerve to relax as it courses through it’s anatomy. By releasing the nerve from the surrounding tissue, inflammation can be reduced, as can impingement and constriction of the nerve from any surrounding tight muscle or scarring.
  • Do patients always have an injury in their past?

    While headaches can result from even minor whiplash injuries, it is not uncommon that a migraine surgery patient will not correlate their headaches with a specific injury. In many cases, only after a long discussion, will patients remember that they did have some type of head or neck injury around the time that their migraines began.

Share This Page: