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Post-Traumatic Headaches Explained for TBI Survivors

Sep 7, 2022 10:00:07 AM

Headaches might seem like no big deal. But if you've suffered a traumatic brain injury, they could be an alarming symptom.

TBI headaches are the most common symptom after a traumatic brain injury. But there are different types of post-traumatic headaches. From light headaches to severe migraines, you may not be sure what to do to get TBI headache relief.

Woman Pushing On Her Temples From Headache

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for you. With the help of professionals, you may be able to get the TBI headache relief that you need.

In this guide, we'll discuss treating post-traumatic headaches. Soon you'll be ready to take back your quality of life.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

First, what is a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? A traumatic brain injury is the result of an external force that strikes you in the head or causes your head to bang around. This is not the result of something internal, such as a stroke.

You can acquire a TBI in many different ways. You could suffer one from a fall, or as a result of being tackled during contact sports like football. It's essential that you wear head protection for activities that require it.

The brain is a sensitive organ. It can handle regular jostling, but hard, sudden movements may cause a concussion. This causes your brain to bounce around inside your skull, which can stretch and damage the sensitive tissue.

This trauma to the brain tissue can damage your brain cells. This can lead to chemical changes in your brain, which in turn can result in negative consequences on everything from sleep to behavior.

Symptoms of a TBI or concussion vary widely. You should consult a medical professional immediately if you believe that you have suffered a TBI. Delaying a visit to the hospital could result in long-term negative consequences for your neurological health.

TBI Headaches: What Is a Post-Traumatic Headache?

After a brain injury, such as a concussion, there's a good chance you will get headaches. These headaches could be light, or they could be severe.

Man Holding His Head In Pain

The severity of your TBI does not necessarily correlate with the severity of your headaches. In some cases, a minor TBI could result in severe headaches, and vice versa. In any case, consult your health professional if you still feel concerned that a migraine headache may be a sign of a serious issue.

The headaches could be a result of the head injury, or they could be the result of a neck injury you acquired in the process. You may have experienced whiplash, and the stress on the neck muscles now translates into a headache.

There is some good news. In many cases, a regular post-traumatic headache won't last for the rest of your life. You may have them for as few as 3 months before they dissipate on their own.

However, in some cases, these headaches may continue for several years. That's why it's important to take good care of yourself, and your brain above all. The brain is the most important organ, and your quality of life is tied to it.

Survivors of a TBI should know everything they can about their condition. Understanding your symptoms and how to treat them is paramount. Do your best to take care of your neurological health, and get TBI treatment if you or someone you know needs it.

Types of Post-Traumatic Headaches

No two post-traumatic headaches are the same. However, there tend to be two main categories when it comes to TBI headaches:

  1. Neck pain headaches

  2. Migraine headaches

Let's go into more detail for both.

Neck Pain Headaches

When you suffer TBI, the whiplash or strain on your neck could cause lasting neck pain. You can also call this a tension headache. These headaches begin as a neck ache and then spread to your head as the day goes on.

Believe it or not, neck tension and pain can influence your headache. Treating your neck muscles or vertebrae may help reduce the severity of these headaches.

Man Rubbing His Neck From Neck Pain

Tension headaches can start small, but grow severe by the day's end. Consult your medical professional, such as a chiropractor, if you believe you have suffered a neck injury.

Migraine Headaches

There are different kinds of migraines, but the common theme with most is that they are extremely painful. They may cause disorientation and may make you sensitive to light and noise. You may struggle to get anything done since the pain is so distracting.

Migraines often come accompanied by a throbbing or pounding sensation. They tend to be on one side of the head.

Migraines happen as a result of uneven blood flow inside the head. They can last for hours and may prove difficult to treat adequately.

In some cases, migraines are genetic. The migraines you experience may run in the family, rather than being a result of your TBI. Whatever the case, check with your doctor to be sure of the cause so you can treat it correctly.

Treating Post-Traumatic Headaches

Some people may feel the temptation to just weather it out. A headache will run its course eventually, right? Massage your temples, and you're good to go.

However, it's important to treat headaches as soon as you can. Don't feel ashamed in admitting that you need TBI headache relief. Headaches put a damper on your mood and can make it difficult to get anything done.

If you don't treat your TBI headache, especially a migraine, it could lead to other complications. Take a TBI headache seriously.

Obtain Professional Help

As mentioned all across this article, don't deal with your TBI alone. There are professionals who specialize in brain injuries. You need the best medical assistance available.

Brain injuries are often some of the most complex injuries there are. They involve the most complex organ in your body. Improper brain treatment can lead to a serious dip in your quality of life.

Seek medical treatment immediately if you think you have suffered a TBI. The same goes for any symptoms post-trauma. As a TBI survivor, you should consult an expert for a specialized plan when dealing with your TBI.

Physical Therapist Working On Womans Neck

Neurological health is extremely important for getting the best quality of life. Make sure you seek out the proper care when dealing with a TBI.


Many people take medication to deal with everyday headaches. Likewise, you may find relief by taking medication. However, this should be at the discretion of your healthcare provider.

Contact your doctor to know which medications are safe to take for a TBI headache. Research trustworthy online medical institutions before purchasing over-the-counter medications. Trust the experts when it comes to medication since failure to do so could lead to complications.

Keep in mind that overusing medications may lead to rebound headaches. Rebound headaches are a type of headache caused by the frequent use of medication.

Again, please contact your healthcare provider before making decisions regarding a TBI. The peace of mind of trusting a healthcare professional is worth the time and money.


TBI headaches, like normal headaches, require proper self-care. The standard headache remedies also apply for TBI headaches. These may include the following:

  • Finding a quiet, dark place to lie down and close your eyes

  • Avoiding loud noises and places with a high ambient noise volume

  • Avoiding smoking or caffeine

  • Using relaxing music, meditation, and other relaxing practices

  • Avoiding headache triggers, such as stressful activities

  • Wearing sunglasses in the event light is triggering your migraines

Man Relaxing And Listening To Music Through Headphones

Photo sources from here.

Sometimes it may not be possible to apply some of these things. However, you should do whatever you can to avoid triggering or worsening your headache. Find any little techniques you can to reduce or eliminate headaches when you can't apply the above.

For example, wear earplugs if you have a noisy work environment. Take regular breaks or breathers if you have a stressful, fast-paced work environment.

Finally, you may have to make some lifestyle changes. For example, if you have a habit of using screens for long hours, try to cut back. Reading a book instead of watching Netflix may be a helpful change.

Avoid overstimulation, which can cause or worsen headaches. Remember, a TBI is a traumatic brain injury. Your brain is recovering, and overstimulation could cause complications if you're not careful.

Treat Your TBI Headaches Today

TBI headaches can be debilitating. But rest assured that these are common symptoms, and there are methods of treatment at your disposal. Make sure you know what you can do to treat a TBI headache.

After sustaining a TBI, TBI headaches can be overwhelming. Sallie® provides an incredibly easy-to-use, and free symptom-tracking dashboard. Using the dashboard can help you to identify symptoms and triggers. This is a great first step toward a successful recovery plan.

Take hold of your brain injury recovery today! Register here for Sallie®.

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