Post-Traumatic Headache

  • Todd J. Schwedt
  • Maria Gabriella Buzzi
Reference work entry


Post-traumatic headaches are those that are induced by trauma to the head and/or neck. Post-traumatic headaches are one of the most common secondary headache disorders. Diagnosis is based upon the temporal relationship of headache onset with trauma and exclusion of other potential headache causes. Post-traumatic headaches follow variable courses, with the majority resolving within the first 3 months (acute form) and some persisting beyond the initial 3 months (chronic form). Treatment often requires a multimodal approach, combining medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and physical therapies, all while ensuring avoidance of acute headache medication overuse.


Traumatic Brain Injury Glasgow Coma Scale Head Trauma Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Motor Vehicle Accident 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aaseth K, Grande RB et al (2008) Prevalence of secondary chronic headaches in a population-based sample of 30-44-year-old persons. The Akershus study of chronic headache. Cephalalgia 28(7):705–713PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bazarian JJ, Zhong J et al (2007) Diffusion tensor imaging detects clinically important axonal damage after mild traumatic brain injury: a pilot study. J Neurotrauma 24(9):1447–1459PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borgaro SR, Prigatano GP et al (2003) Cognitive and affective sequelae in complicated and uncomplicated mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Inj 17(3):189–198PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buzzi MG, Bivona U, Matteis M, Spanedda F, Formisano R (2003) Cognitive and psychological patterns in post-traumatic headache following severe traumatic brain injury. Cephalalgia 23:672, P4L22Google Scholar
  5. Carlton SM, Du J et al (2009) Peripheral and central sensitization in remote spinal cord regions contribute to central neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury. Pain 147(1–3):265–276PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. De Kruijk JR, Leffers P et al (2002) Prediction of post-traumatic complaints after mild traumatic brain injury: early symptoms and biochemical markers. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 73(6):727–732PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Evans RW (2004) Post-traumatic headaches. Neurol Clin 22(1):237–249, viiiPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Formisano R, Carlesimo GA et al (2004) Clinical predictors and neuropsychological outcome in severe traumatic brain injury patients. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 146(5):457–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Formisano R, Bivona U et al (2005) Early clinical predictive factors during coma recovery. Acta Neurochir Suppl 93:201–205PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Formisano R, Bivona U et al (2009) Post-traumatic headache: facts and doubts. J Headache Pain 10(3):145–152PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ham LP, Andrasik F et al (1994) Psychopathology in individuals with post-traumatic headaches and other pain types. Cephalalgia 14(2):118–126, discussion 78PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ham LP, Packard RC (1996) A retrospective, follow-up study of biofeedback-assisted relaxation therapy in patients with posttraumatic headache. Biofeedback Self Regul 21(2):93–104PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society (2004) International classification of headache disorders II. Cephalalgia 24(suppl 1):1–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. King NS (1996) Emotional, neuropsychological, and organic factors: their use in the prediction of persisting postconcussion symptoms after moderate and mild head injuries. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 61(1):75–81PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. King NS, Crawford S et al (1999) Early prediction of persisting post-concussion symptoms following mild and moderate head injuries. Br J Clin Psychol 38(Pt 1):15–25PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lee LS, Shih YH et al (1992) Epidemiologic study of head injuries in Taipei City, Taiwan. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi (Taipei) 50(3):219–225Google Scholar
  17. Leininger BE, Gramling SE et al (1990) Neuropsychological deficits in symptomatic minor head injury patients after concussion and mild concussion. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 53(4):293–296PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lew HL, Lin PH et al (2006) Characteristics and treatment of headache after traumatic brain injury: a focused review. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 85(7):619–627PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McAllister TW, Saykin AJ et al (1999) Brain activation during working memory 1 month after mild traumatic brain injury: a functional MRI study. Neurology 53(6):1300–1308PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Medina JL (1992) Efficacy of an individualized outpatient program in the treatment of chronic post-traumatic headache. Headache 32(4):180–183PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Metting Z, Rodiger LA et al (2007) Structural and functional neuroimaging in mild-to-moderate head injury. Lancet Neurol 6(8):699–710PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nampiaparampil DE (2008) Prevalence of chronic pain after traumatic brain injury: a systematic review. JAMA 300(6):711–719PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Obelieniene D, Schrader H et al (1999) Pain after whiplash: a prospective controlled inception cohort study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 66(3):279–283PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. O'Neill B, Haddon W Jr et al (1972) Automobile head restraints–frequency of neck injury claims in relation to the presence of head restraints. Am J Public Health 62(3):399–406PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Packard RC (1992) Posttraumatic headache: permanency and relationship to legal settlement. Headache 32(10):496–500PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Packard RC (1999) Epidemiology and pathogenesis of posttraumatic headache. J Head Trauma Rehabil 14(1):9–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Packard RC (2000) Treatment of chronic daily posttraumatic headache with divalproex sodium. Headache 40(9):736–739PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Richter M, Otte D et al (2000) Whiplash-type neck distortion in restrained car drivers: frequency, causes and long-term results. Eur Spine J 9(2):109–117PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Solomon S (2009) Post-traumatic headache: commentary: an overview. Headache 49(7):1112–1115PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stovner LJ, Schrader H et al (2009) Headache after concussion. Eur J Neurol 16(1):112–120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tatrow K, Blanchard EB et al (2003a) Posttraumatic headache: biopsychosocial comparisons with multiple control groups. Headache 43(7):755–766PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tatrow K, Blanchard EB et al (2003b) Posttraumatic headache: an exploratory treatment study. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 28(4):267–278PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Thornhill S, Teasdale GM et al (2000) Disability in young people and adults one year after head injury: prospective cohort study. BMJ 320(7250):1631–1635PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Walker WC, Seel RT et al (2005) Headache after moderate and severe traumatic brain injury: a longitudinal analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 86(9):1793–1800PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Weiss HD, Stern BJ et al (1991) Post-traumatic migraine: chronic migraine precipitated by minor head or neck trauma. Headache 31(7):451–456PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yamaguchi M (1992) Incidence of headache and severity of head injury. Headache 32(9):427–431PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yang CC, Hua MS et al (2009) Early clinical characteristics of patients with persistent post-concussion symptoms: a prospective study. Brain Inj 23(4):299–306PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yehuda R, LeDoux J (2007) Response variation following trauma: a translational neuroscience approach to understanding PTSD. Neuron 56(1):19–32PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Lifting The Burden 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Washington University in St. Louis School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Post-Coma Unit and Headache CentreIRCCS Fondazione Santa LuciaRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations