Cervicogenic headaches due to injury to the muscles and soft tissues
Rebound headaches from medications used to treat headaches
The headache may also include psychiatric, behavioral, or social factors.
Your chances of a post-traumatic headache is increased if you have had a history of head injuries.
A post-traumatic headache may occur right after the injury or as the injury is healing. Symptoms may include:
Head pain—symptoms depend on the cause of the headache
Nausea or vomiting
Light and sound sensitivity
Visual problems such as seeing spots or bright lights
Pain that occurs at the end of the day
Pain that starts in the neck, shoulders, and back of the head
Pain with neck movement
Problems concentrating which may include difficulty with multitasking or quickly feeling fatigue performing mental tasks
Mood and personality changes
You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, and any recent injuries. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis is based on the exam and history. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the brain and nervous system if the headache persists, there are changes on the exam, or it is severe.
You will also be asked about the frequency and pattern of your headaches. To help provide answers, you may consider keeping a diary of:
When your headaches start and end
What you were doing at the time
What you tried to relieve the pain
Any other symptoms you had with your headache
Images may be taken of your brain, head, and neck to look for signs of injury. This can be done with:
Headaches after head injuries—post-traumatic headaches. Brainline website. Available at: https://www.brainline.org/article/headaches-after-head-injuries-%E2%80%94-post-traumatic-headaches. Accessed March 13, 2018.
Headaches after traumatic brain injury. Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center website. Available at: http://www.msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/Headaches-After-Traumatic-Brain-Injury. Accessed March 13, 2018.
Post-traumatic headache. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/2007/10/25/post-traumatic-headache. Accessed March 13, 2018.
Sheedy J, Harvey E, Faux S, Geffen G, Shores EA. Emergency department assessment of mild traumatic brain injury and the prediction of post-concussive symptoms in a 3-month prospective study. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2009;24(5):333-343.
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