Headache management in concussion and mild traumatic brain injury

Authors: Lucas S.

Headache is one of the most common symptoms after traumatic brain injury (TBI), and posttraumatic headache (PTH) may be part of a constellation of symptoms that is seen in the postconcussive syndrome. PTH has no defining clinical features; currently it is classified as a secondary headache based on its close temporal relationship to the injury. A growing number of studies are characterizing PTH by using primary headache classifications. Moderate to severe PTH that is often disabling may be classified as migraine or probable migraine and is found in substantial numbers of individuals. Recent data from civilian adult, pediatric, and military populations all find that PTH may be more of a chronic problem than previously thought, with a prevalence of close to half of the injured population. In addition, if PTH definitions are strictly adhered to, then many cases of PTH may be missed, thus underestimating the scope of the problem. New headaches may be reported well after the 7 days required for diagnosis of PTH by the guidelines of the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition. A history of headache before a head injury occurs and female gender are possible risk factors for headache after TBI. Treatment of PTH may be acute or preventive, and recommendations are made for the use of migraine-specific acute therapy when indicated. Preventive therapy may be considered when PTH is frequent, disabling, or refractory to acute therapies. Comorbid conditions should be considered when choosing an appropriate preventive therapy. The symptom of headache as a "return to play" or "return to duty" barrier must be viewed in the context of other symptoms of mild TBI.

PM R. 2011 Oct;3(10 Suppl 2):S406-12.

Full Text and source: PM&R Journal