Post-Traumatic Headache: Caveats, Conundrums, Controversies and Cases


Post-traumatic headache or PTHA is an often perplexing and common clinical condition seen in persons after brain injury as well as whiplash injury. This course will provide insights into the myriad causes of headache following these types of injuries and the importance of defining specific pain generators to optimize treatment efficacy. Headache classification, etiology and pathophysiologic proposed mechanisms will be reviewed, as well as examination clinical caveats on how to take a headache history and perform an adequate physical examination of the patient with PTHA from the physician and physical therapist standpoint. Treatment options for the various subtypes of PTHA will also be examined. Data regarding natural history, prognostic factors and outcome will also be delineated. The importance of patient education in the context of PTHA treatment will also be emphasized. Two patients with a history of chronic PTHA will be reviewed and examined.


Learning Objectives:


  1. Identify the major etiological factors associated with PTHA following traumatic brain injury as well as cervical whiplash injury
  2. Understand the pathophysiological mechanisms posited to be the cause of post-traumatic headache pain
  3. Review the key points of inquiry in the context of taking a thorough PTHA history
  4. Delineate the PTHA examination from a neurological and musculoskeletal standpoint
  5. Appreciate the myriad treatment options for PTHA as related to the various headaches subtypes
  6. Learn about the natural history and prognosis of PTHA
  7. Comprehend the importance of patient education in the context of holistic PTHA management
  8. Interview and examine 2 volunteer patients with chronic PTHA with audience participation



Nathan Zasler

Sara Etheredge