Head-injury headaches

Head-injury headaches

Last Updated November 3rd, 2022

Yes, doctors advise a CT scan of the brain and other brain scans to diagnose the injury and headache.
Yes, getting enough sleep, rest, and avoiding certain foods that trigger headaches can help in the symptoms.
Yes, headaches are one of the most common symptoms a person experiences after a head injury.

Introduction

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms that are experienced by individuals who have suffered head injuries. This is also termed as “post-traumatic headache”. Such an injury can result from a violent blow to the head or a severe jolt to the upper body or the brain. In some cases, any foreign object or a shattered piece of the skull that penetrates the soft brain tissue can also result in a traumatic brain injury. While a mild injury can have a temporary effect on the brain cells, a serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, damaged tissues, internal bleeding, and other types of physical damage to the brain. Severe cases can result in death or develop long-term complications. In general, when a new headache appears for the first time, in close temporal relation to trauma or injury to the head or the neck, it is attributed to that injury.

Such headaches do not have any special features that can distinguish them from general headaches caused by stress or migraine. When a headache develops within 7 days following trauma or injury, it can be attributed to the same. An injury-related headache can be accompanied by other symptoms which may include dizziness, ringing in the ears, fatigue, reduced ability to concentrate, mild memory problems, insomnia, anxiety, personality changes, and irritability. In such a scenario, the patient is said to be undergoing post-concussion syndrome. These headaches can be long-lasting or may come and go at intervals. They make the daily life of the patient extremely difficult and can result in the inability to work efficiently along with difficulty in concentrating and retaining memory. At present, there is no specific medication that can alter the damages in the brain and reduce the headaches, and hence the treatment is symptomatic.

The major causes of head-injury headaches

Such a headache can be caused by various kinds of head injuries which can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Some such conditions are discussed below.

Skull fracture

A fracture is a crack or breaks in the bone structure of the skull. In case the skull gets dented, it is called a depressed skull fracture. In such a case, fragments of the bone can press against the brain tissue. In most cases, there is a bruise or contusion on the surface of the brain below the fracture.

Epidural hematoma

In this case, a blood vessel gets torn under the skull, resulting in bleeding. This can be accompanied by a fracture in the skull itself. The blood gets collected in the space between the skull and the outermost layer, called the dura, covering the brain. The collected blood increases the pressure inside the skull chamber and presses on the brain. This is a serious condition that can lead to death unless it is cleared.

Acute subdural hematoma

A subdural hematoma happens when blood accumulates between the outermost layer of the dura and the surface of the brain. It is generally caused by an assault, car accident, or fall that can result in a blow on the head or when the head is jerked violently. Such an injury is very severe in nature generally leads to unconsciousness and is fatal in 50% of the cases.

Intraparenchymal haemorrhages and contusions

This type of injury is caused when the brain gets bounced inside the skull due to the force of a heavy impact. The injury is caused not only on the surface of the brain directly below the impact but also on the other side which hits the skull. In this case, a pooling of blood occurs within the brain tissue and a contusion or swelling is visible through a CT scan.

Concussion

A concussion is generally associated with symptoms of confusion, memory loss, or temporary loss of consciousness. Additional symptoms resulting from such an injury include vomiting, dizziness, coordination problems, confusion, ringing in the ears, sleepiness, or seizures.

These injuries can lead to structural damage to the brain or disruption of the nerve arrangements leading to an effect on the messaging system. Some experts also believe that psychological factors resulting from these injuries also cause headaches. But it has not been determined how some people suffer from head injury-related headaches while others do not. Research studies show that these headaches can be related to factors like a history of anxiety, depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and a lack of social support.

Types of head injury-related headaches

headachesThe headaches resulting from traumatic head injuries can be a part of a complex array of symptoms called post-concussion syndrome. After an injury, headache symptoms may develop without any specific location, severity, and frequency. The exact nature of the headache can also change as time passes. While most headaches after an injury go away within the first three to six months, some can persist. In case the headache is accompanied by the following symptoms, it is necessary to visit a doctor.

  • The headache gets worse.
  • The patients is also experiencing nausea and/or vomiting.
  • An arm or leg weakness or problems speaking occurs along with the headache
  • In case there is an increasing sense of sleepiness along with the headache.

While there can be a variety of headaches, some of the major ones are listed below.

Migraine headaches

Such headaches occur because a particular area of the brain has become hypersensitive due to the injury. This area can send pain signals to the other parts of the brain and magnify the headache. In some cases, such a headache comes with warning signs like seeing spots or bright lights. Typical features include:

  • A dull, throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound.
  • The pain level can be rated as moderate to severe.

Tension-type headaches

These headaches are associated with muscle tension or muscle spasms in the head area. Mental stress or anxiety can also play a role behind them. They usually have the following features:

  • A tight, squeezing sensation that is felt around the entire head or on both sides.
  • Pain levels can be from mild to moderate.
  • These headaches generally occur later in the day.

Cervicogenic headaches

The back of the head and the neck contain muscles and soft tissues along with numerous nerves. An injury to this area can be transmitted by the nerves that travel into the skull and result in a headache. This type of headache usually has the following features:

  • They generally start in the neck, shoulders, and back of the head, and can travel to the upper part of the head.
  • Any neck movement can worsen the pain.
  • These headaches can range from mild to severe and are usually not accompanied by nausea.

Rebound headaches

In some cases, the medication that is used to treat headaches can result in further headaches. When certain pain medications are consumed regularly, a failure to consume the daily dose can result in a headache. This is also seen with certain drinks like coffee or energy drinks that contain caffeine.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis for head-injury headachesThe first step that the doctors take is to perform a CT scan or an MRI of the brain to check if there is any internal bleeding resulting from an injury. Further brain scans can be conducted to determine the exact cause of the headaches. A detailed study of how the injury occurred, the symptoms, and past health problems are done. The symptoms of the patient are also observed and if needed, the patient is kept under observation in the hospital for a few days. In case there are associated memory-related problems, a range of memory tests, called neuropsychological tests are conducted.

Treatments

In most cases, good sleep, exercise to tolerance, relaxation and stress management, and regular healthy eating are recommended as the basic steps to cure headaches. In addition, reduced caffeine intake, and avoidance of overuse of pain medication are also advised for all kinds of headaches. There is also the use of physical therapy for relieving tension-type headaches which result from neck pain or injury. In some extreme cases, the condition is treated by an injection around the irritated nerve with a local anaesthetic which can be combined with steroid medication. Depending on the classification of the headache, migraine-specific therapies can be adapted to provide relief.

Two types of treatment approaches are used for migraine headaches. Acute or abortive therapy treats the headache when it occurs, while preventive therapy or prophylaxis is used on a daily basis when the attack frequency is high. In case such therapies do not work and headaches occur frequently, suppressive or prophylactic therapy is used by using specific medications. Antidepressants, particularly serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors have also been used to reduce headaches resulting from traumatic head injuries. In many cases, non-drug therapies like biofeedback techniques and meditation are also useful in treating the conditions.

Prevention of head injury-related headaches

Head-injury headachesThe best way to prevent post-concussion syndrome is to avoid head injury in the first place by taking the necessary preventive measures.

The dos

Here are a few things that you need to do to avoid such injuries

  • It is important to fasten your seat belts while driving or being driven. It is best to keep children in the back seat of the car to keep them safer.
  • It is also important to keep the home environment safe and prevent the chances of a fall. Some steps that can be taken include the right use of rugs, improving lighting, and installing handrails.
  • It is important to get your vision checked at regular intervals. Poor vision can increase the chances of a fall, especially if your work environment involves operating in risky conditions.
  • Get enough rest and sleep to improve the overall rate of healing from the injury. Regular exercise, as advised by the doctor, can help in improving sleep and decreasing headaches in some cases.
  • For those who use blood-thinning medications, consume large volumes of alcohol or have a bleeding disorder, it is important to seek medical care immediately after a head injury, even if it appears to be less severe.

The don’ts

  • Do not ride a motorcycle or drive a car in a manner that jeopardises your safety. Never drive a car after consuming alcohol.
  • Do not underestimate the importance of a helmet. The use of helmets is very important during activities like riding a motorcycle, bicycling, roller-skating, skiing, snowboarding, playing cricket, or horseback riding. In case your profession demands the use of a helmet, make sure that you use it.
  • Avoid certain foods that can generate a headache. Such foods include red wine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and a few types of cheese.
  • Avoid consuming pain medications on a regular basis without consulting the doctor.

Conclusion

While head injury-related headaches can be severe and painful they can be treated by taking the right measures. In many cases, certain lifestyle changes can deliver effective results. To know the exact reason behind these headaches and the clinical characteristics, more research is necessary. This type of problem is common in both military and their civilian population and recent statistics indicate that it is more prevalent than what was believed earlier. While repetitive minor head impacts can lead to headaches, some patients also develop headaches from very minor head trauma, the reasons behind which are not clear at this stage. These sorts of headaches are also reported in children, even though the frequency of such cases is less than that in adults.

While the disturbed structure and chemical functions in the brain are a major cause of these headaches, psychological factors are also taken into account. The friends and family members of the patient can play an important role in helping him or her in coping with the issue. The consultation with a psychologist can be effective in some cases. This is useful to learn pain managing techniques and treat psychological symptoms related to the post-traumatic syndrome. Educating the patient to choose the right therapy is also a part of the treatment. Many patients wait for the headache to worsen before seeking help and often take the help of over-the-counter medications. With the right steps, brain injury-related can be brought under control and a normal lifestyle resumed.

 

Yes, doctors advise a CT scan of the brain and other brain scans to diagnose the injury and headache.
Yes, getting enough sleep, rest, and avoiding certain foods that trigger headaches can help in the symptoms.
Yes, headaches are one of the most common symptoms a person experiences after a head injury.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Take adequate rest.
  • Immediately consult a medical practitioner.
  • Take some time out from your job and daily chores.
Don'ts
  • Avoid activities that are risky and may cause an injury.
  • Study or full-time work.
  • Drive or ride a bicycle or a bike.

 

 

 

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Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Sharpen your brain with these top brain-friendly foods! Did you know your diet could decide how razor sharp your memory is? Or that what you eat…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Ca 19.9 test
CA19.9 Test CA 19.9 is a cancer antigen that exists on the surface of cancer-causing cells. The levels of CA…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
CERULOPLASMIN- triple marker
Triple Marker Test A triple marker test is an important prenatal test that is performed to detect the presence of chromosomal…
EMG electromyography
EMG- Electromyography EMG detects the presence, location, and extent of diseases that damage the nerves such motor neuron disease. Electromyography…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA antigen in the…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Spinach: The ultimate way to boost health with this green superfood! Spinach is a green superfood that ranks high in both taste and nutrition. Read more to discover how…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Period sanitary napkin-menstruaion-blood-colors
Period blood – what it says about your health Your period blood color and consistency indicate what is happening in your body. Is your blood bright red…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
cytomegalovirus iGG
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)- IgG Test The cytomegalovirus IgG is the immunoglobulin protein produced by our immune system when the body is infected by…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Turner syndrome and infertility
Infertility profile (women) The infertility profile tests in women are conducted to form a complete picture of the hormonal balance and…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Echocardiogram
Echocardiography – ECHO Echocardiography (commonly known as ECHO) is an imaging modality (similar to ultrasonography) used to visualize the interior of…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
top 10 deadliest diseases
What are the top 10 deadliest diseases and what is causing them? What are the largest killers of human lives across the globe? Which diseases are the most fatal ones?…
Anti-Inflammatory foods: 18 foods to a disease-free you Anti-inflammatory foods are the foods which are known to reduce the inflammation as well as the pain from…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
The Shepherd's diet
Facts about the Shepherd’s diet Kristina Wilds promoted Shepherd's diet, a Christian-based diet that highlights Jesus Christ's diet as mentioned in the Bible.
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
Graston technique: A faster way to accelerate your rehabilitation after injury Graston technique is designed in such a way that any pain related to the soft tissue can be…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…

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