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Post Traumatic Headaches – About the Pain

Post Traumatic Headache

By Gordon Johnson

Call me at 800-992-9447

Post traumatic headaches are the most common complaint after someone has suffered a concussion or severe brain injury.   Over 70% of brain injury victims will complain of some kind of head pain known commonly as post traumatic headache.  Post traumatic headaches are not consistent with the severity of the injury.  In other words, even someone who has suffered a mild traumatic brain injury may have as much trouble or more with headache pain as someone with a severe brain injury.

Unfortunately not all of the medical community has caught on to the severity of post traumatic headaches.  Post traumatic headache is the most common complaint of post-concussion syndrome. In 1988 the International Headache Society (IHS) Classification System was written but never really took hold as the physicians and clinicians tend to use the old classification system because of their familiarity and understanding of it.  The HIS systems criteria states that a loss of consciousness, amnesia lasting longer that 10 minutes and two abnormalities of the following situations have to occur for post traumatic headache to become a diagnosis;

  1. Neurological Exam
  2. Skull films
  3. Central Nervous System Imaging
  4. Evoked potentials
  5. Cerebrospinal fluid
  6. Vestibular function tests
  7. Neuropsycological tests

These are all important when ensuring the standard degree of trauma but leaves out the overwhelming number of post traumatic headaches that are caused by brain injury without a blow to the head.

Many patients that suffer headaches after trauma to the head attribute the headaches to the force of the blow to the head.  In many cases there wasn’t an actual blow to the head but rather the acceleration/deceleration factor comes into effect.  It is sometimes termed “whiplash”.  These types of injuries cause the brain and the skull to collide.  The bruising that is caused by this type of trauma may be difficult to detect without proper testing such as a Cat Scan or MRI.

Next Causes of Post Traumatic Headache


Attorney Gordon Johnson :: g@gordonjohnson.com :: :: Facebook :: 800-992-9447
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice

5 thoughts on “Post Traumatic Headaches – About the Pain

  1. James Burke

    I am a 20 year survivor of brain injury. I still occasionally get headaches, but what I have learned is that after a headache my memory, attention, flexibility, problem solving, plus my physical balance is much better. Since the headaches are almost always on my less affected side of my brain, I have formed a hypothesis that the headaches are during a process of rewiring. The pain occurs when a rewiring is a mistake, kind of like a short circuit. This is completely a theory, but it does seem to make sense. Any thoughts …

  2. Richard Glover

    I used to get severe headaches as a kid up to the time I was in a motorcycle accident at age 20. I flew off the back of a motorcycle and went forehead first into the bumper of a car. I had a out of body experience in that accident was brought back by CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation remember coming back to this realm from where I had gone saw coming back a bunch of folks working on a guy in the street said a prayer for the victim they were working on. I woke 3 weeks later from a coma I was in and walked out of the hospital 3 days after coming to had collapsed lungs from the CPR and a tracheotomy but still walked out in 3 days to this day 32 years later I have not had a headache. I have a scar on my left frontal temporal lobe it looks like a valentines day heart on the MRIs. I just figure it was Gods gift to me stopping the headaches and the love he showed me in letting me get a glimpse of the fact that there is an afterlife. My Grandpap met me where I went to and told me Richard you are not supposed to be here yet I recognized him immediately he died when I was 6 I was 20 at the time of the accident I had never knownanyone that had died except for my Grandpap all my life. He told me it is up to you, you can stay here with me or go back and be with your family which seemed odd to me at the time talking to him in that instance. I told him Grandpap I love you but I want to go back to be with my family he said Richard that is your decision so I floated away from the cloud I was talking to him on outside of a wall I had first came upon from a hole I went through in my death as I floated away from the cloud I could still see the hole above in which I had come through to see the wall I floated along to standing on the outside on the cloud where my Grandap appeared to me. As I floated away all of a sudden then I came back to this realm and saw the victim getting worked on by a crowd not realizing it was me that was the poor guy being worked on I said a prayer for him before coming back to having my soul back in my body. Upon waking in the hospital and talking to my Dad I asked about what my Grandpa could have possibly meant by telling me he was the only one I knew there at that time it was up to me I could stay there with him or go back and be with my family. My Dad told me that my Grandpap who I made promise me as a 6 year old before he died he would remember me in Heaven as I would change over the years and look different and have a different voice he promised me he would remember me and recognize me, My dad told me then that my Grandpap was actually his adopted father not his real father something I had never known. So in all that my questions about the meeting of my Grandpap and the odd statement of I’m the only one you know here you can stay here with me or go back and be with your family made sense then. In 32 years since that accident I have not had a headache.

  3. Laura

    I had a TBI 3 yrs ago and still suffering with headaches. They come and go and I never know when. Medications help a little, stretching and physical therapy helps a little, but nothing erases them. I lost my job and I’m not able to do any task for more than 2 hrs (even things I enjoy). Finally, my reading ability is slowly returning, but if i overdo it, the headache returns too.
    Memory continues to be a huge problem for me. My patience ran out a long time ago. This is not for sissies.

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