Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a medical condition that can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning and occurs as a result of experiencing a jolt or blow to one’s head. The symptoms that manifest because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. To properly treat a TBI and its associated symptoms, a medical professional must classify an individual’s TBI as mild, or moderate to severe by considering a variety of factors (e.g., whether the injury caused unconsciousness, the duration of loss of consciousness, severity of symptoms, etc.). While the symptom profiles will vary from person to person, one of the most common side effects that is widely experienced by individuals with a TBI is headaches.
Different Types of Headaches
There are several different types of headaches that can occur after a TBI. Each with distinct features. Some of the most common include the following:
- Migraine headaches occur due to an area of the brain that becomes hypersensitive and can trigger the spread of pain signals to other areas of the brain.
- Tension-type headaches are generally associated with muscle spasms, muscle tension and stress.
- Cervicogenic headaches occur because of injury to the soft tissue and/ or muscles located in the back of the head and/ or neck.
- Rebound headaches can happen when medications taken to treat headaches are overused.
It is important to note that the different types of headaches are not mutually exclusive. An individual can experience more than one type of headache after a TBI.
What To Do
There are many ways to treat a TBI headache. Depending on the individual, implementing a variety of treatment methods may yield the most successful results. Medication is often prescribed to help individuals manage TBI related headaches. Some examples of these medications, provided by the University of Washington Model System Knowledge Translation Center (UWMSKTC) include:
- Antiseizure medications
- Certain beta-blocker blood pressure medications
- Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections
According to Brainline it can also be advantageous to practice self-care and proper “headache hygiene.” These can include getting daily exercise, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, getting an ample amount of sleep regularly, and more. It is helpful to familiarize oneself with certain triggers that may be adversely contributing to the frequency and/ or severity of one’s headaches.
For Information and Support
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