Quick Facts

  • One of the most common and persistent symptoms following a brain injury
  • Long term headaches may be called post-traumatic or post-concussion headaches

What does it
look like?

  • Tension headaches affect the entire head and may feel like pressure. They often last from 30 minutes to 1 week
  • Cluster headaches are typically limited to one side of the head. Individuals may also have severe pain located around one eye, show tearing, and have a red eye
  • Migraine headaches are recurrent and pulsating. Typically, they only affect one half of the head. Sometimes individuals will see an “aura” before a migraine starts and they may also experience vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, or smell 
  • Musculoskeletal headaches are common with whiplash. These headaches worsen when bending over, stooping, or exerting oneself. Individuals may also have dizziness, imbalance, and a sensitivity to light and sound

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  • Muscle tension or spasms
  • Injury to the brain such as a bruise (concussion) or laceration (tear)
  • Nerve fibers of the brain being stretched or sheared from trauma
  • Common triggers include: dehydration, irregular meals, caffeine and stress

Possible complications:

  • Inability to tolerate light and noise making it difficult to participate in activities within or outside the home
  • Depression and anxiety as a result of ongoing headaches
  • Difficulty sustaining attention, problem solving and may experience cognitive fatigue more quickly

What can we do?

  • Promote good sleep and rest
  • Relocating to a quiet and dark room may help reduce symptoms
  • Take breaks from demanding tasks that may trigger headaches
  • Plan and pace activities that may bring on headaches
  • Take pain medication as prescribed by a health care provider

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.