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What Is Post-Traumatic Headache? And How Is It Related to Traumatic Brain Injury?

Posted by Robert T. Karns | Nov 02, 2021 | 0 Comments

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are marked by a variety of symptoms that make day-to-day life difficult, among which is a condition called “post-traumatic headache” (PTH).

Post-traumatic headache typically presents as migraine headaches. According to the American Headache Society (AHS), it arises immediately after consciousness is regained or during the first week after a TBI. In both cases, this subtype of headache may be attributed to an abnormal blood flow to the brain (common to many TBIs), which may give rise to the release of chemicals in the brain, brain shrinkage, or brain swelling.

How Common Is Post-Traumatic Headache?

Per the AHS, about 95% of people are likely to experience post-traumatic headache after a concussion, and about two-thirds of these people will experience it through migraines. People with moderate and severe TBIs have also reported experiencing post-traumatic headache. It is, therefore, the most frequently reported post-TBI symptom.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Headache

As mentioned, post-traumatic headache often manifests as migraine headaches. Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Pulsing pain
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression, nervousness, and other mood changes

How Long Does Post-Traumatic Headache Last?

For many individuals with TBIs, their post-traumatic headache resolves after about three months. However, a study found that for some people, post-traumatic headache may persist for as long as five years.

The study followed over 300 people who had suffered moderate to severe TBIs. A mere 17% of study participants had experienced headaches prior to their TBI, while one-third of the patients experienced headaches daily or multiple times a week after their TBI.

How Do You Treat Post-Traumatic Headache?

The standard treatment for post-traumatic headache includes medication and/or therapy, as recommended by a qualified doctor. Physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), occupational therapy, and speech therapy are among the most common for post-traumatic headache treatment.

Other Migraines Related to TBIs: Abdominal Migraines

A subtype of migraines, abdominal migraines affect your stomach. They are most common among children, especially girls, but they may also result from a TBI. This is because they tend to occur as a reaction to the triggers that cause migraine headaches: stress, poor sleep, anxiety, anger, depression, and other symptoms common to TBIs.

Symptoms of abdominal migraines include the following:

  • Midline abdominal pain (around the belly button or the center of the body)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness/fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of pallor
  • Dark shadows under the eyes

Abdominal migraines often occur suddenly and severely, without any warning signs to the person experiencing them. They may last from one to 72 hours.

Experienced Brain Injury Lawyers

If your brain injury was the result of someone else's negligence, Karns & Kerrison will fight to recover your compensation from that negligent party in civil court. Since 1974, we have advocated for injured Rhode Island residents with great care, attention, and skill. Call us today at (888) 281-3100 or contact us online for a free consultation.

About the Author

Robert T. Karns

Founding Attorney


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