Types of Post Traumatic Headaches – Musculoskeletal & Neuralgic

Types of Post Traumatic Headaches

By Gordon Johnson

Call me at 800-992-9447

There are several types of post traumatic headaches.  We will touch on a couple of the types of post traumatic headaches that are pertinent to brain injury.

Musculoskeletal Headache

One of the types of post traumatic headaches is Musculoskeletal headaches. They  are the most common caused by  pain after trauma.  It is unfortunately the most overlooked as well.  Musculoskeletal headaches are caused by musculoskeletal pain from the neck and secondarily to the cranial adnexal structures such as the structures in the head but not the brain itself.  The most common cause of this type of headache is the acceleration/deceleration or “whiplash” factor.

Another type of musculoskeletal pain that could be considered is the temporomandibular joint dysfunction.  This is a dysfunction of the chewing muscles.  This may be caused by facial fractures that occurred during the trauma.  The musculoskeletal headaches present with symptoms of pressure and tension.  The headache tends to get worse when bending, stooping or exertion is extended.  Other symptoms could be dizziness and sensitivity to light.

Treating physicians should have a good understanding of the cause of the symptoms. The proper testing should be done including;

  • An appropriate muscle exam
  • Trigger/tender points should be found
  • Twitch responses or jump signs should be noted

Pain patterns from trigger points should be understood because cervical muscles have a higher propensity for injury following acceleration/deceleration (“whiplash’) type of injuries.

Neuritic and Neuralgic Pain Syndromes 

One of the other types of post traumatic headaches is known as neuritic or neuralgic pain syndromes.  The nerves in the scalp may suffer injury after trauma.  This could be either the result of direct injury to the nerves or entrapment from the muscles that have been injury and go into a state of spasm.  Occipital nerves are the most common involved in post traumatic headache pain.  These are both the greater and lesser occipital nerves. Other nerves may also be involved such as the supra and infra-orbital nerves.  The headaches may arise from contusions or lacerations of the scalp which means the nerves of the scalp have been effected.  The pain tends to be shooting and stabbing and unbearable.

Next Pain Management of Post Traumatic Headaches




Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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