Migraine Most Common Headache After Brain Injury
Headache is one of the most commonly reported symptoms following traumatic brain injury (TBI), and is often persistent, lasting years after the initial injury. However, little is known about the clinical features of headaches that occur following TBI. In a 2012 study, symptoms were used to characterize the headaches experienced by people with TBI in order to provide a framework for treatment.
The study involved 378 patients currently undergoing in-patient rehabilitation for TBI. Their headaches were classified into migraine, tension-type, or cervicogenic headache at the start of the study and at 3, 6, and 12 months following the brain injury.
A total of 38% of brain-injury patients suffered from chronic headaches. Among those patients, migraine was the most common type of headache reported, with probable migraines affecting 25% of participants in this cohort. Tension-type headaches affected 21% and cervicogenic headaches occurred in 10% of TBI patients with headache. Patients with migraines were also more likely to experience frequent headaches. Prior history of headache was found to be a risk factor for developing headaches after TBI.
The researchers conclude that most headaches occurring in patients with TBI can be classified using primary symptoms. Migraine or probable migraine described the majority of headaches for up to a year after a TBI. This study supports the use of evidence-based treatments such as those used to treat primary headache disorders when managing headaches occurring after TBI.
Lucas S, Hoffman JM, et al. Characterization of headache after traumatic brain injury. Cephalalgia 2012; 32(8) 600-606.