Head Injury And Chronic Headaches
It is estimated that around 1.5 million to 3 million people are treated every year in the US for mild head injuries. However, these figures are not considered to be a correct depiction of the total number of head injuries as many people with mild head injuries do not go to the hospital for treatment.
When a person sustains a head injury, he can have pain for a few hours or days after the injury. Around 30 percent of people will keep having headaches for over 2 moths. These headaches are categorized as chronic post-traumatic headaches. Based on the available figure, it estimated that around 450,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the US with chronic post-traumatic headache.
Most of the head injuries are due to car accidents and falls. However, a certain percentage is also caused due to contact sports and industrial accidents. Today, more doctors are acknowledging that chronic post-traumatic headaches are due to injuries sustained by the brain.
Usually the chronic headaches start immediately or shortly after receiving the injury. Most of the headaches due to a head injury are spread entire the whole head, and often the pain radiates to the neck. The ache will be in the form pounding, throbbing, stabbing or squeezing pain. Usually the headaches will be quite severe and the person will not be able to do any work because of it. Nonetheless, the intensity of the pain may vary right through the day.
Besides the chronic headache, the person will also have other problems like change in the personality, difficulty to remember things, inability to concentrate, lowered attention span, feeling dizzy, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, episodes of anger outbursts, mood swings, depression, frustration and decreased libido. The severity of these symptoms can vary. Sometimes, the symptoms will be subtle, other times they will be quite obvious.
Usually the patients with subtle symptoms are the ones who do not get diagnosed. The MRI and CT scans in these patients will invariably be normal, and the doctors may end up suggesting that the symptoms are psychological in nature.
The good news is that people suffering from chronic post-traumatic headaches can get treated. Around 80 percent to 85 percent people can control the headaches with proper treatment within 6 to 12 months of starting the treatment. Unfortunately, the remaining 15 percent to 20 percent patients would have to bear the headaches for the rest of the lives.Medications used to treat chronic post-traumatic headaches range from beta blockers to antidepressants to serotonin antagonists to MAO inhibitors to calcium channel blockers to anti-seizure medication. If the pain cannot be controlled by these medications, then the doctor might prescribe opiates.