What Do Post-Concussion Headaches Feel Like?

Reviewed on 3/18/2021

Post-concussion headaches feel like pressure in the head, a tight band around the head, and the head is blowing up like a balloon or being pulled apart between the eyes. Other symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, neck pain, sensitivity to light or sound, tiredness/fatigue, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), balance problems, vision problems, irritability, nervousness, and others.
Post-concussion headaches feel like pressure in the head, a tight band around the head, and the head is blowing up like a balloon or being pulled apart between the eyes. Other symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, neck pain, sensitivity to light or sound, tiredness/fatigue, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), balance problems, vision problems, irritability, nervousness, and others.

Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include: 

  • Headache (most common) that feels like:
    • Pressure in the head
    • A tight band around the head 
    • The head is blowing up like a balloon
    • The head is being pulled apart between the eyes
    • May feel different from other headaches you have experienced
  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Neck pain
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Balance problems
  • Vision problems 
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep problems
  • Problems paying attention
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Feeling mentally slowed
  • Reduced tolerance to stress, emotional excitement, or alcohol
  • Decreased taste and smell (rare)

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome, or persistent post-concussion symptoms, is a cluster of symptoms of a brain injury (concussion) that last longer than the normal expected time frame for recovery. 

What Causes Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome is caused by a concussion, which is a form of brain injury. When concussion symptoms do not go away after the expected recovery time, this is considered post-concussion syndrome.

Causes of concussions include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falling 
  • Injuries from contact sports such as football, ice hockey, soccer, and boxing
  • Combat injuries such as from blasts and bullet wounds

Risk factors that may contribute to developing post-concussion syndrome include: 

  • Severe impact
  • Longer duration of initial concussion symptoms
  • Being hit twice in a short time
  • Four or more symptoms that occur in the early stages of the concussion 
  • Significant visual symptoms immediately following the injury

How Is Post-Concussion Syndrome Diagnosed?

Post-concussion syndrome is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, along with tests to assess the severity of the brain injury, such as: 

What Is the Treatment for Post-Concussion Syndrome?

The goal of treatment of post-concussion syndrome is to relieve symptoms, and may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Vision therapy
  • Graduated exercise therapy 
  • Light therapy (photobiomodulation) (currently being researched)

QUESTION

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Reviewed on 3/18/2021
References
https://www.concussionalliance.org/post-concussion-syndrome

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/postconcussion-syndrome-the-basics?search=Post-Concussion%20Syndrome&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~16&usage_type=default&display_rank=2

https://www.cognitivefxusa.com/blog/concussion-headaches-and-post-concussion-headaches