East Coast Injury Clinic
Auto Accident Injury Care & Chiropractic
located in Jacksonville, FL
If you’ve recently begun having migraine headaches following a recent car accident or head injury, you’re probably experiencing post-traumatic headaches (PTH), or headaches brought on by a traumatic brain injury (TBI). For the estimated 1.7 million people who are affected by TBIs of varying degrees every year, recurrent headaches are the most common complaint. The specialists at East Coast Injury Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, are committed to providing complete headache and migraine relief to injury patients living in communities across the northeastern region of Florida.
What are post-traumatic headaches?
Any headache that develops within a week of sustaining a head injury or regaining consciousness following a head injury qualifies as a post-traumatic headache (PTH). PTH isn’t just a consequence of severe brain trauma — it’s just as likely to occur after mild and moderate brain injuries, too.
Persistent PTH, or PTH that doesn’t completely subside within three months, is more likely to affect patients who have a history of chronic headaches or patients with a family history of migraines. Women are also more likely than men to develop persistent PTH.
Persistent PTH is often a symptom of post-traumatic syndrome, a complex condition that includes a variety of trauma-related neurological symptoms, such as irritability, poor concentration, equilibrium problems, and sleep disturbances.
What are the symptoms of a PTH?
Although patients who are affected by PTH may describe a variety of different symptoms, most PTH headaches can be classified as either a migraine or a tension headache.
Migraines, which typically cause a severe pulsing sensation on one or both sides of your head, are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Most migraines progress through four stages, but you may not experience each stage every time you have one:
Prodrome: This stage occurs about a day before a migraine hits. It’s characterized by subtle bodily changes that signal the impending attack, including mood changes or neck stiffness.
Aura: This stage can occur before or during a migraine. It includes visual disturbances, such as bright spots or flashes of light, and may also include a temporary loss of vision, among other symptoms.
Attack: During the migraine itself, which can last as long as 72 hours, you may experience pain on one or both sides of your head, blurred vision, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea or vomiting.
Post-drome: In the final stage of a migraine, you may feel weak, moody, dizzy, and confused, with continued sensitivity to light and sound.
Tension headaches don’t progress through various stages. Instead, they’re characterized by mild to moderate non-pulsating pain that’s often accompanied by sensitivity to light or sound. Tension headaches don’t cause nausea or vomiting.
How are PTH migraines treated?
Although the team at East Coast Injury Clinic can diagnose PTH with a comprehensive neurological exam and medical history, patients with more severe injuries may require a CT or an MRI scan to help rule out a brain bleed.
The most effective treatment for PTH migraines is drug therapy, including anti-inflammatories and pain medication. Medications that have been shown to prevent headaches, including antidepressants, blood pressure medication, and anti-seizure medication, may be helpful over the short-term for patients who continue to have moderate to severe headaches.
Physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and cognitive behavioral therapy can also be helpful.