Head & Brain Injury Advice and Resources


Post-Traumatic Headache More Common After Mild TBI

Dr. Sylvia Lucas a professor of neurology at the University of Washington in Seattle reported at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society in August 2012 that the likelihood of headache following brain injury is 70% greater in the mild TBI group than in the moderate or severe group. Dr. Lucas and her colleagues followed 220 patients with mild TBI who were enrolled at one center within a week of injury and a seven-center cohort of 378 patients with moderate to severe TBI who were admitted to various inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

Prior to injury all groups of TBI sufferers had an average incidence of headache of 17%. But following injury the mild TBI group had a significantly higher incidence. As to why this is so, Dr. Lucas and her colleagues say it remains a mystery. They noted that the most prevalent type of headache in all 3 groups following brain injury is the migraine type involving blood vessels inside the head. The second most prevalent was the tension headache involving the scalp muscles. And the third most common was the cervico-genic type involving chronic contraction of the neck muscles. So clearly it is not the whiplash of the neck muscles that causes more headaches, but something else yet to be indentified. Right now the doctors are speculating that that mild TBI irritates a pain generator in the head whereas moderate to severe TBI turns it off.