Concussions cause structural and chemical disturbances within the brain that can lead to recurring, chronic headaches. Individuals who have suffered repeated head injuries increase their risk of having not only chronic headaches, but also impaired brain function and a decreased efficiency in mental and emotional responses to different types of stimuli.
Connections between Concussions and Chronic Headaches
A concussion can cause many different reactions within the brain. While a mild concussion may affect the chemical balance, a severe head injury can lead to structural damage that can result in pressure being placed on certain areas of the brain. This can lead to inflammation and, in some cases, infection.
Once a person has received a head injury, any future trauma to the head or neck can aggravate the old wound, causing an increase in chronic headaches and other symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries or TBI.
The structural effects of concussions include increased pressure on the brain caused by inflammation, damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and damage to areas of the brain that control mental and emotional behavior.
Any of these structural effects can lead to chronic headaches. The severity of the injury will often determine the frequency and intensity of the headaches.
Long-Term Effects of Post-Concussion Syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome can have long-term effects on how a person's brain functions. Poor memory retention, inability to concentrate and being unable to stay on task and work efficiently are just a few of the long-lasting effects of post-concussion syndrome.
Combine these side effects with the possibility of frequently-recurring chronic headaches and you have a recipe for a substantially decreased quality of life.
Professional football players are currently being studied to determine the long-term effects of post-concussion syndrome and how it will affect their lives in the future. Recurring chronic headaches, the inability to concentrate and fluctuations in mood and behavior are just the beginning of what doctors are now discovering.
Coping with Chronic Headaches and the Long-Term Effects of Concussions
If a person has sustained a traumatic brain injury or repeated concussions and head injuries, it is important to avoid certain types of activities that may aggravate or increase the risk of potential symptoms. A person who has had numerous head injuries may have no outward or visible signs of the damage. The chronic headaches they endure can range in severity depending on the severity of the original injury.
It is important to learn to manage the pain of chronic headaches, as well as account for any limitations a person may experience as a result of their head wounds.
Individuals who have sustained a serious TBI may have problems concentrating or focusing on tasks. Allow them the time they need to work through a problem. Placing undue pressure on them to work more efficiently may result in an increase in chronic headache pain and other health issues that come from being placed under excessive amounts of stress.
New Jersey Headache Institute
At the New Jersey Headache Institute, we know that a concussion is a serious injury that should be carefully monitored. Repeated concussions can lead to chronic headaches, fluctuations in mental and emotional clarity and function, as well as the inability to stay on task and remain attentive.
These conditions often go hand-in-hand and should be treated in connection with one another so the patient receives the full benefit of a treatment plan.
Please contact us for more information or for a consultation about your headache pain.