If you have ever bumped your head and been left with a lingering headache and perhaps some light bruising and a bump then you know how just how sensitive the head is to injury. Some head injuries, however, can be severe and recovery may be much more complicated. In fact, head injuries may not always leave a person with obvious structural abnormalities but the effects can still be crippling.
After Head Injuries
Headaches may sometimes persist for many months or years. Even a direct blow to the head and skull does not necessarily result in a headache immediately afterwards, which can mean a postponed to the doctor and further complications from delayed treatment.
Headaches following a head injury may be mild, moderate or severe and the extent of the injury itself is not always indicative of the severity of headaches. Mild headaches following a head injury are those that usually don’t prevent a person from functioning daily. These types of headaches tend to respond to over-the-counter pain medications as well as general relaxation techniques. Although you may need to take medication regularly to prevent their return, they usually absolve after a few weeks to several months. Moderate headaches may show some improvement with treatment similar to that used for mild headaches, but they still remain albeit to a less painful degree. You may experience some relief from medication but not enough to completely eliminate the headaches.
With severe headaches, you are probably unable to function at work, school or in any normal capacity. Common headache medications don’t alleviate the pain and no amount of immediate therapeutic attention provides any substantial relief. Severe headaches are truly disabling as they prevent a person from participating in social activities and functioning in normal daily life.
A mild brain injury is usually classed as a concussion. When a concussion occurs, there is a disruption in normal brain functioning that may occur in conjunction with cognitive confusion and fainting. Some of the imaging tests commonly used following head injury doesnt always show any major abnormalities although undetected nerve problems from the injury may still cause chronic headaches and pain. Any headaches that collectively exist for an extended length of time are typically referred to as post-concussion headaches.
Headaches and Bleeding
If you have suffered from a brain injury and find that your headaches are becoming more severe, it is important that you see your doctor and explain all of your symptoms. You may have bleeding in the brain that can be slow in exhibiting obvious symptoms. Sometimes a headache is the only indication of serious bleeding and you should obtain prompt medical treatment.
Treating Headaches After Brain Injury
One of the unfortunate realities for people who suffer from headaches following a head injury is that they will probably experience other symptoms related to the injury, which then complicates treatment. Dizziness, sensory problems, depression, paranoia and sleep disorders are common complaints from those who have suffered a head injury. Treatment tends to focus on the symptoms rather than a root cause because there is usually no ‘cure’ for brain injuries. Anti-depressants are often effective for treating pain and any accompanying depression or anxiety.
Eliminating stimulants such as coffee and cigarettes is advised and avoiding substances such as alcohol can be helpful in preventing headaches after a head injury. Although many people suffer from sleep disorders following a head injury, try to get as much rest as possible. Exercise may be beneficial, even if it’s just a simple brisk walk outside for ten minutes. Keep a strong support network if you can and be sure to alert your boss or any colleagues at work regarding your head injury and any headaches you are experiencing.
If you are open and maintain communication, your work can hopefully be accommodating to any special needs you may have. Most people who suffer from headaches after a brain injury will experience relief within several months to a year and for those who suffer from persistent headaches, treatments can make head pain more manageable.