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Traumatic-event headaches

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Author(s): Haas David

Journal: BMC Neurology
ISSN 1471-2377

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 17;
Date: 2004;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Chronic headaches from head trauma and whiplash injury are well-known and common, but chronic headaches from other sorts of physical traumas are not recognized. Methods Specific information was obtained from the medical records of 15 consecutive patients with chronic headaches related to physically injurious traumatic events that did not include either head trauma or whiplash injury. The events and the physical injuries produced by them were noted. The headaches' development, characteristics, duration, frequency, and accompaniments were recorded, as were the patients' use of pain-alleviative drugs. From this latter information, the headaches were classified by the diagnostic criteria of the International Headache Society as though they were naturally-occurring headaches. The presence of other post-traumatic symptoms and litigation were also recorded. Results The intervals between the events and the onset of the headaches resembled those between head traumas or whiplash injuries and their subsequent headaches. The headaches themselves were, as a group, similar to those after head trauma and whiplash injury. Thirteen of the patients had chronic tension-type headache, two had migraine. The sustained bodily injuries were trivial or unidentifiable in nine patients. Fabrication of symptoms for financial remuneration was not evident in these patients of whom seven were not even seeking payments of any kind. Conclusions This study suggests that these hitherto unrecognized post-traumatic headaches constitute a class of headaches characterized by a relation to traumatic events affecting the body but not including head or whiplash traumas. The bodily injuries per se can be discounted as the cause of the headaches. So can fabrication of symptoms for financial remuneration. Altered mental states, not systematically evaluated here, were a possible cause of the headaches. The overall resemblance of these headaches to the headaches after head or whiplash traumas implies that these latter two headache types may likewise not be products of structural injuries.
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