Post-Traumatic Headache: Why does headache type matter?


Research shows that headache is the most common symptom reported after concussion. 

Clinical experience says it’s often the most debilitating and difficult to deal with. 

Headaches are classified by their type, and that allows us to direct treatment. A concussion headache is usually due to trauma, so it gets classified as a post-traumatic headache - a type of secondary headache. 

As a category, though, “post-traumatic headache” doesn’t give us enough information to direct treatment. Knowing it’s secondary to trauma doesn’t tell us enough about the etiology or pathophysiology of the headache. We need to drill down deeper to find out which of the primary headache categories a particular patient’s post-traumatic headache belongs to. Most post-traumatic headaches fall into the category of

1️⃣ Migraines

Followed by

2️⃣ Tension-type headaches

But other factors can complicate the picture. 

Did you know headaches can also occur due to

✅ Whiplash

✅ Other neck muscle or joint problems

✅ Nerve issues

✅ Overuse of painkiller medications

When a patient reports a headache after a concussion, it’s important to drill deeper during your history. Getting more information and figuring out what type of headache it is will allow you to be more targeted, and probably more successful, with your treatment plan.