Migraine and Headaches

Symptoms of headaches in Concussion Syndrome

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Who gets post-concussion headaches?

Headaches are the most prevalent complaint from patients who have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. They are a common symptom of a concussion, but they can develop into a more serious diagnosis, such as post-traumatic headache (which is defined as persistent headache or migraine for at least 3 months) or post-concussion syndrome (which includes other symptoms such as dizziness and photophobia).

Although post-concussive issues arise in about 20% of patients after a head injury, studies have shown that these enduring headaches may affect anywhere between 59% to more than 90% of individuals who endure a concussion.

In addition, there may be some mitigating factors that make a person more likely to develop post-concussion headache symptoms. These include:

  • Existence of previous trauma or concussion

  • Prior history of chronic headaches or migraine

  • Family history of headache disorders

  • Sleep disorders


People with mild or repetitive Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or rTBI)) are more likely to suffer migraine (80%) when compared with moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries (27%), according to one study. In addition, military personnel who experience a blast-induced mild TBI as well as athletes who engage in high-contact sports may also have an elevated risk, but more research is needed to determine a connection.

Sleep and recovery from Concussion


We all know sleep affects mood.  We all have natural bodies sleep patterns that are governed by the day night environment. Recovering this after the disruption of concussion can be a challenge and need to be restored.

Sleep, relaxation and controlled stimulation is a key component to managing symptoms and recovery from concussion.

The ways to restore balance of life is to eat, act and relax according to the days rhythm.

Modern life styles have broken the natural day/night light patterns. Many people use their phones, tablets or computers many hours of the day and night. (Evening or night-time use of phones is proven to stop sleep)

A simple an effective methodmight be  to stop or regulate the use of electronic devices, most especially two hours before sleep.

An alternative is to use specialized blue light filtering glasses. These are scientifically researched and help regulate blue light stimulation and control melatonin if worn 3 hours before sleep. Many athletes use these in general to support training and travel because it supports sleep that supports training and competing within a global sports arena.

Evidence: Blue/Violet Light Blocking regulates sleep, performance & training.

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Second or Repeated Concussion Syndrome

There is also likely a compounding effect of multiple concussions on headaches and related pain. A 2018 analysis showed that 2 or more head injuries can lead to more frequent and severe headache and migraine attacks as well as total post-concussion symptoms.


How long do post-concussion headaches last?

It is important to distinguish between the headaches that arise immediately after an injury and those that persist for weeks and months after the concussion. Generally, immediate head pain can manifest within a few hours or days after hitting your head and resolve itself shortly after with proper rest and treatment. However, post concussion headaches and migraines begin within 7 days of the injury and generally last for at least 3 to 6 months. It has even been suggested that nearly a quarter of all headaches after a concussion persist for a year or more. This may reflect a possible neurological pathway or cause for post-concussion syndrome; however, there is also evidence that improper diagnosis and treatment (in some cases up to four months after injury) may also contribute to the duration of post-concussive headache symptoms.

Get diagnosed and


How are post-concussion syndrome headaches treated?

There is no easy or ‘one size fits all’ treatment for headaches that arise due to post-concussion syndrome, but we can offer some general recommendations and cautions.

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Mis-diagnosis and treatment can delay recovery time. Make sure you rule out other serious complications as well as emotional symptoms such as depression or anxiety that can also be part of post-concussion syndrome. In addition, as most post-concussion headaches are probable migraine or tension-type headache, medications and treatment regimens for those disorders may prove effective—such as triptans and topiramate. Antidepressants also have some clinical efficacy and may also address some of the prominent emotional side effects.

Avoid medication overuse
There is a litany of evidence that shows opioids and narcotic-based drugs lead to worsening outcomes for post-traumatic or concussion headache patients.7 In addition, even over-the-counter analgesic or pain medication (such as Ibuprofen) can provide initial relief but ultimately lead to a medication overuse or rebound headache phenomenon.

Explore alternative therapies

Another reason it is critical to see a physician for your post-concussion headaches is because he or she can recommend alternative treatment methods that can be beneficial. Non-drug therapies might include guided relaxation or meditation; biofeedback; certain forms of physical therapy; and more. We created an in-depth guide and support on natural migraine treatments,

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As with migraine and other headache disorders, there may be external stimuli that are worsening your post-concussive headaches. Sensitivity to light after concussion is a common complaint, so it may be appropriate to reduce your exposure to sources that cause the most pain (e.g. fluorescents or digital screens). Digital screens emit blue light that is high energy stimulation and can cause light sensitivity and over stimulation of the neural networks, it also affects mood and the natural bodies sleep patterns. Sleep, relaxation and controlled stimulation is a key component to managing symptoms and recovery from concussion. A simple an effective method is to stop or regulate the use of electronic devices, most especially two hours before sleep, or use specialised blue light filtering glasses. These are scientifically researched and help regulate blue light stimulation and control meletonin if worn 3 hours before sleep.

Evidence: Blue/Violet Light Blocking regulates sleep and mood.

Violet Light blocking Glasses

Exercise, diet, and loud or unpleasant sounds are just a few other factors that can aggravate your head pain or migraine attacks. Follow a guided and modulated return to play protocol defined by a specialist.

Find a Specialist in aRTP.

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