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Headaches After Head Injuries

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 19 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
Headaches Head Brain Skull Injury

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 doesn’t 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.

Your Lifestyle

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.

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[Add a Comment]
I fell few weeks backs banging my head slightly. But last few days my head as been a bit fuzzy with headaches any need for concern tia
Shazza - 19-Jun-18 @ 4:20 PM
I got hit in the head yesterday evening with a glass jar full ofspaghetti saucefrom the top shelf in my pantry. It hit me right above my left ear there is a knot and bruising and I can’t touch it or my hair on that side. I have also had apersistent headache ever since. What should I do?
Amber - 15-May-18 @ 3:11 AM
Misty - Your Question:
I got hit in the forehead quite hard and have had a mild headache since, there is a gumball size lump there and the bruising yellow and green has come down around my eyes a week later I have what I think is called an ice pick headache in the back of my head and I'm very concerned bc tonight my headache was extreme accompanied by nausea and very dry mouth should I try to go to sleep or be more concerned?

Our Response:
If symptoms persist, you should make an appointment to visit your GP. If only to be on the safe-side.
HeadacheExpert - 13-Apr-18 @ 10:50 AM
I got hit in the forehead quite hard and have had a mild headache since, there is a gumball size lump there and the bruising yellow and green has come down around my eyes a week later I have what I think is called an ice pick headache in the back of my head and I'm very concerned bc tonight my headache was extreme accompanied by nausea and very dry mouth should I try to go to sleep or be more concerned?
Misty - 12-Apr-18 @ 2:52 AM
I had treatment over two weeks ago on the the back of my head after hitting it on edge of the bath . I had a 8cm split to my head and 6 stapes to close it .why do I still have a very sensitive lump on my head , hope you can help me thank you
Jules - 26-Mar-18 @ 5:41 AM
I hit the top of my head on a concrete sign 3 days ago got stitches for a 2inch laceration. It gave me a headache and is getting worse. Tried tylonal and excedrin nothing takes it away. Went back to the workers comp doctor today told him he shined a light in my eyes and said i dont see no nerve damage your ok and gave me naproxin sent me on my way with no other check. Headache is getting worse. Dont know if i should see someone else for a mri and what will workers comp do.
Dan - 16-Feb-18 @ 11:49 PM
I fell in a club nearly 3 weeks ago and hit the back of my head the lump is still there and feels very fluidy.. Iv been having severe headaches and feeling tired and sick haven't been able to get a doctors appointment not sure what to do.
Coley - 16-Feb-18 @ 4:41 PM
2 days ago at work I had a parsnip smack me right on top of my head, started feeling dizzy so sat down for 5, well anyway started feeling ok so carried on working, few hours later I got this real bad headache and throbbing pain across my head. What should I do?
Shelly - 31-Jan-18 @ 6:55 PM
Yesterday evening at work a small sign fell on my face, leaving me with two cuts. One on the top of my nose and the other under my left eye. Other than it stinging, I felt fine. However, the next morning I woke up with a huge headache, dizziness, and nausea. Should I get checked out by a doctor?
Jas - 31-Jan-18 @ 4:33 PM
@Coop - I'm not surprised. It may take a few days. Go to the docs if you feel it's unbearable.
Ugg - 15-Jan-18 @ 11:43 AM
Played footy this morning and took football into the face and can not shift this heaface i taken asprin but not calimef it down what so ever
Coop - 14-Jan-18 @ 5:03 PM
I had a band to my head three weeks ago and have had a headache night and day since on the right side of me head, I was hit on the left side, I had a CT scan done and the Dr said it showed no bleed but that my brain prob hit the right side dye to the force I was hit at, I am having pain on moving my head as well as the constant pain, this is quite severe, is this a sign that there is something else going on
Mo - 5-Jan-18 @ 9:51 PM
@Tbear & @Stevo - both of you should get yourselves seen to if you are in any way concerned. More so Tbear if you feel sick too. Stevo - your head is going to hurt for a while if you've had stitches.
mumof3 - 5-Jan-18 @ 3:12 PM
I banged my head three weeks ago resulting in having 8 stitches and my head still hurts is this normal
Stevo - 2-Jan-18 @ 5:24 PM
About a month ago, while I was at workI fell from a 10 foot ladder. I was taken to the hospital and had a the tests and xrays but a little over a week ago I startedhaving these headaches that will wake me up at night, I sometimes feeldizzy and sick to my stomach. Should I be worried.
Tbear - 1-Jan-18 @ 7:10 PM
I got punched in the face a few days ago, and now ive been getting headaches. What does this mean?
Lisa - 27-Dec-17 @ 9:48 PM
Hit my face into car door almost took my eye out now I have pain all around my eyes
Hurting - 19-Dec-17 @ 5:22 PM
@Gilly - if you have any doubts that you're not OK, make an appointment to see your doctor. It's always best to be on the safe side.
AngieG - 19-Dec-17 @ 12:57 PM
Hi I had a fall on Saturday 16th December 2017 and hit my head and was knocked out I have two black eyes and my nose is broke I did go the hospital and got checked but now I’m having headaches and I feel sick and feel like I’m in a daze is this normal thanks gill
Gilly - 19-Dec-17 @ 10:55 AM
Hi. So I had something fall on my head about 4 months ago. I was left with a nasty cut and bits of spiky hair where the unpack had cut my hair off. I didn't quite pass out. I went to the hospital, they cleaned me up and glued my cut back together. I had 3 weeks off work with post concussion syndrome. Since then though I have a constant head ache. And my head is so tender all over. My boyfriend went to give me a cuddle and his shoulder tapped my head and the pain was ridiculous I was nearly crying. Is this normal?. I should add I did go back to the hospital about a week after it had happened as I was feeling so bad. They said that was normal and send me on my way.
Klare - 7-Dec-17 @ 7:28 AM
@Ans01 - if you're having problems breathing and you passed out as a result, then you need to see a doctor anyway.
Katie\g - 3-Nov-17 @ 12:26 PM
Earlier today I was having trouble breathing I went to get me something to drink in the kitchen and then I got really dizzy and felt like I was gonna passoutand then i couldn’t see anything and I blackedout and I hit the kitchen floor and my head hit the floor pretty hard and now I’m having a lot of pain in the back of my head and having bad headaches Should I see a dr or am I fine?
Ans01 - 2-Nov-17 @ 8:27 PM
I fell on my head a month ago and had small bleeding, went to the doctor and there was no brain injury or skull damage. There was no headache back than, but now, I start to get light pain on the spot where I fell. I would be thankful for comments
bo - 31-Oct-17 @ 1:09 AM
I hit my head 3 days ago on a piano I was fine for the day but then got really moody as I am I paranoid person I did not sleep for the two days but I feel fine I just feel really moody and but there’s like pain around my head is this back?
Hol - 22-Oct-17 @ 3:57 PM
I hit my head falling down a flight of stairs about four days ago, I believe I knocked myself out in the fall as I do not remember it but was told about it. The next day I was very nauseated and had a mild head ache. However the day after that I had a more severe head ache and an odd tingling sensation on the right hand side of my scalp when I touched it. The headache and the tingling sensation have not gone yet, do I need urgent medical help or am i ok?
Emew - 10-Oct-17 @ 10:42 AM
@Hyper - it's not about whether you look crazy or not, you have to think of your health. Go to the doctor, you might be concussed!
Edie - 6-Oct-17 @ 12:52 PM
I was playing ball with my dog and as I bent down his head came up. I was hit square in the tip of my nose. I was bleeding and all I saw for a second was black. I sat for a few minutes as blood poured out of my nose. I have very very slight bruisingand swelling. Like barely. My dog has a big head. I do not notice any problems with my nose but I have had this terrible awful headache in my face and my head. My eyes hurt and I am almost crazy with the pain. I dont want to go to the Doctor and look crazy. Any suggestions?
Hyper - 3-Oct-17 @ 1:00 AM
@FF Vertigo usually results from a sudden or temporary change in the activity of the balance sensors in the inner ear or in the balance sensors’ connections to the brain, both of which detect movement and changes in your head position. Vertigo can occur after a fall. If your symptoms haven't cleared up is known as post-concussion syndrome. Symptoms include: headaches, dizziness, problems with memory or concentration, unsteadiness, depression, anxiety and changes in behaviour. The fact you have had scans and nothing has been found is positive.But you still need to visit your doc frequently if the symptoms persist and your doc will refer you back to a specialist. Hope it clears up for you soon.
Zander - 1-Aug-17 @ 12:22 PM
I fell to the ground and hit my head 4 months ago. After that I had a severe headache and dizziness. Now I'm still experiencing dizziness when I try to sleep over the left side of my head. I also wake up very dizzy. I went to the doc and made some scans, but nothing was wrong. Is it normal to still experience this headaches and dizziness? I'm very worried to be honest.
FF - 31-Jul-17 @ 3:36 PM
@Stells - I would - it doesn't harm and it's always best to be on the safe side. Jean.
JTV56 - 20-Jul-17 @ 10:54 AM
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