A post-traumatic headache occurs after any injury or trauma to the neck or head. Many individuals tend to suffer from a headache even after a mild head injury. An episode can occur right after the injury or delayed for up to a week. Some individuals continue to suffer from headaches for several months after the injury.
It is important to note that any injury to the head results to swelling and fluid accumulation in and around the brain. Once the tissues start to swell and grow, it causes an increase in the pressure within the skull, resulting to a post-traumatic headache.
What are the causes?
Various injuries can cause a post-traumatic headache. Some of the typical injuries include the following:
- Head injuries
- Assault or physical violence
- Sports injuries
- Vehicular accidents
- Pain in the head and neck region
- Worsening headache during exertion, coughing, bending over and head movement
- Pain on one side of the head or on both sides
- Throbbing sensation that striking resembles a migraine headache with nausea and sensitivity to light and noise
- Memory issues
- Impaired hearing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Diminished taste and smell
- Concentration difficulties
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Diminished libido
- Anxiety, depression and insomnia
- Stiffness or rigidity of the neck, head, back and shoulders
Management of post-traumatic headache
The treatment for post-traumatic headache involves managing the symptoms with the following:
- Medications specifically tricyclic antidepressants to alleviate the pain as well as anxiety and depression
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are given to reduce the pain and inflammation
- If the headache worsens and develop the usual characteristics of a migraine, medications for migraine are given.
- In some cases, beta-blockers might be prescribed.
- The application of an ice pack or heat pack can provide relief.
- Local injections into the joints and muscles of the cervical spine
- Massage therapy