Headaches are a common symptom experienced by those who have suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). In fact, approximately 30% of patients with TBI report experiencing headaches on a regular basis. There are several types of headaches that can occur after a TBI, including post-traumatic headaches, migraines, and chronic tension headaches. In this blog post, we will explore these types of headaches in more detail and discuss potential solutions for managing them.

What are the different types of headaches that can occur after a traumatic brain injury?

Post-traumatic headaches

Post-traumatic headaches typically occur within seven days of a head injury and can persist for over three months. In some cases, patients may experience post-traumatic headaches for years. These headaches can be severe and debilitating, making it difficult for individuals to perform daily activities.

Migraine headaches

Migraines are extremely common in the TBI population. In addition to traditional migraine symptoms such as severe head pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound, individuals with TBI may also experience vestibular migraines. These headaches are characterized by additional symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, sense of imbalance, and disorientation. It is possible for an individual to experience a vestibular headache without these additional symptoms, or for the symptoms to occur at different times. Learn more about dizziness and vertigo.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are another type of headache that can occur after a TBI. They are characterized by severe pain on one side of the head, often around the eye. They are called "cluster" headaches because they tend to occur in groups, or "clusters," with multiple headaches occurring over a period of days or weeks. These headaches are considered to be one of the most severe types of headaches and are not very common in the TBI or concussion population.

Chronic tension headaches

Chronic tension headaches are a type of headache that occurs when there is a lot of stress in the environment or when performing certain tasks such as reading or concentrating. They are characterized by a dull, aching pain that is felt on both sides of the head, often described as a band-like pressure around the head. The pain can be moderate to severe and is often accompanied by muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. These headaches can be chronic and can make it difficult for individuals to perform daily activities.

Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation for headaches following a traumatic brain injury

Headaches and migraines can be caused by various visual deficiencies, with binocular visual disorder being a common type. This refers to a misalignment of the eyes, which can occur from a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). When the eyes have trouble working together, they may become strained and overworked, leading to high levels of ocular stress and resulting in physical pain or a headache.

Traditional headache treatments may not work if the source of the symptoms is visual misalignment. Our specialty is treating this misalignment through neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, leading to permanent headache relief.

Our functional vision evaluation can pinpoint the cause of your headaches and determine if your vision may be contributing to the pain, even if it's not the direct cause. After a diagnosis is made and a visual issue is identified, Our neuro optometrist  will create a personalized neuro-optometric rehabilitation plan to enhance your visual system and correct the issue. It's crucial to consider your complete medical history during the evaluation to provide the most comprehensive and tailored advice on how to approach the situation in a way that fits your lifestyle and health.

How can headaches be managed after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Headaches are a common symptom after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can be caused by a variety of factors such as inflammation, changes in blood flow, and nerve damage. Managing headaches after a TBI can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can be helpful.

One effective way to manage headaches is to create a quiet and dark environment where you can lay down and rest. This can help to reduce the stimulation of the brain and ease the pain. It's also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, as dehydration can be a contributing factor to headaches.

Certain foods and drinks such as caffeine and chocolate can also trigger headaches, so it's important to be aware of these triggers and make adjustments in your diet as needed. Additionally, it is important to identify any other triggers that may bring on headaches, such as sensitivity to light and sound, or motion.

Treatment options for TBI-related headaches may include medication, such as over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications, physical therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

If you would like to learn more about headaches and TBI, please feel free to contact our optometry office in Santa Clarita. We have a handout on the stimulant migraines that may be very helpful.

Schedule with eye doctors for a neuro optometric evaluation at our renowned optometry clinic in Valencia, conveniently serving patients from nearby Santa Clarita, Palmdale, and San Fernando Valley. Call (661) 775-1860 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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