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Post-Traumatic Headaches More Common in Mild TBI

The relationship between post-traumatic headaches and the occurrence of a brain injury was long thought to exist but the correlation has now been scientifically correlated. According to a report released by the American Council for Headache Education, it is estimated that over 450,000 new cases of chronic post-traumatic headaches, or PTH, arise in the United States each year.

PTH occurs in 90% of patients following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and appears to be more common and more serious in mild TBI’s as compared to significant closed head injuries. In many cases, the occurrence of a headache is highest in those without loss of consciousness. Currently, nominal evidence exists to explain this phenomenon.

Studies have shown that the number of patients who suffer with PTH decreases over time; however, roughly 25% of victims have reoccurring headaches for up to four years. Unfortunately, many patients with mild TBI appear to be fine but are, in fact, suffering from chronic PTH and other frequently overlooked post-concussion symptomatology. PTH tends to be the most debilitating complaint following a mild TBI, leading to periods of depression, personality changes and prolonged disability.

Excruciating symptoms of PTH are primarily due to sustained muscle contraction of the neck and scalp. A secondary type is characterized by vascular fluctuations that may give rise to a vascular headache, which may pulsate at times. The types of pain endured from PTH are characterized as aching, throbbing, pounding, pressurizing, squeezing, stabbing, and/or expanding. The pain tends to be generalized, meaning the headache is felt all over the head, including the neck region.

Physical therapy is a beneficial treatment in managing PTH.  Methods including massage, cervical traction, and strengthening of the neck musculature helps to decrease painful muscle spasms that lead to PTH.

Management through medication includes ingesting beta blockers, antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, anti-seizure drugs, serotonin antagonists, or intravenous DHE. Blocking the occipital nerve with a local anesthetic (typically lidocaine) combined with a corticosteroid (i.e. dexamethasone) may also provide short-term pain relief.

Sadly, a large percentage of patients will experience ongoing disability and pain related to PTH, despite ongoing therapy treatments discussed above. In these patients, Botox injections into the frontalis muscle and other pericranial muscles have been reported to substantially improve symptoms of PTH. Although this is an off-label use of the drug, this method has shown to be safe and effective in select patients with persistent PTH.

If you have sustained a head injury or TBI and are now suffering from the incapacitating symptoms of PTH, it is vital you consult with your physician, document your experiences, and create an individual treatment plan that improves your quality of life. The injury law attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are experienced at handling post-traumatic headache claims.

The Dolman law Group is a highly regarded Clearwater personal injury law firm that represents Florida injury victims statewide who have been physically injured due to the negligence exhibited by an individual or corporation.