A concussion headache occurs when the brain is jolted against the inside of the skull. This can happen from blunt force trauma to the head, or from the neck and head being violently shaken (like in a car accident). When the brain jostles against the skull, the nerve fibers in the brain are disrupted and a bruise can form. Common symptoms of concussion headaches are nausea and vomiting, double vision, eye sensitivity to light, and dizziness. Concussion headache pain is in the moderate to severe range, and can sometimes result in receiving medical tests to ensure it isn’t a more serious ailment.
The first common location for a headache during and after a concussion is in the frontal area of the head. Sometimes called a “tension headache”, pain in this location is often caused by the body being violently jolted forward and then halting (also known as “whiplash” when in a car accident). The pain radiates from the forehead to both sides of the head. It is considered a slight to moderate range of pain, although it can last hours at a time and reoccur intermittently. Tension headaches in relation to a concussion can also be caused by muscle spasms and tension in the neck and head. Muscles spasms can occur during and after trauma is inflicted. Headaches that occur in the front of the head and the sides of the head are a common symptom of a concussion.
Another common location for a concussion headache is on the back of the head and down the neck, called cervicogenic . This area is vulnerable to trauma because of the proximity to the spinal cord and all the nerve endings that connect there. The pain is usually considered mild to severe, and can be caused by similar traumas as tension headaches; violent jolting of the head and neck during a car accident, or blunt trauma to the back of the head and neck. The pain in this location often results in the sufferer seeking medical guidance.
The third common location for headaches during or after a concussion is on one side of the head, called a migraine. Migraines range in pain level from moderate to severe, and can last for extended amounts of time; from a day or two, to a couple weeks. Common symptoms of a migraine include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. When the pain reaches severe levels, the sufferer is often unable to participate in daily life activities and will need to seek medical treatment. Although migraines are known to centralize on one side of the head, the pain can radiate towards the forehead and behind the eyes. In some cases, the pain even stretches down the neck and shoulders.
Concussions can result in headaches in different parts of the head. From tension headaches in the front, cervicogenic headaches in the back, and migraines on either side, clearly the brain is quite vulnerable to trauma. Although in many cases concussions heal on their own, sufferers should be checking in with a doctor to ensure there isn’t a more serious problem.