Chronic pain occurring after trauma is associated with greater pain severity and psychological distress than non-traumatic pain. A link between trauma and emotional distress may be particularly strong in males.
The study involved 289 consecutive, treatment-seeking headache patients (69 males, 220 females), who were evaluated by a neurologist. Headache was post-traumatic (occurring within 2 weeks of head injury) for 45 patients. Headache diagnoses for the remaining 244 non-traumatic patients were: migraine, tension-type, combined migraine and tension-type, cluster and other. Racial and social demographics were similar between traumatic and non-traumatic groups. Self-reports of disability, psychological distress, and quality-of-life scores were compared between traumatic and non-traumatic headache patients.
Patients experiencing traumatic headache reported increased disability. Traumatic headache patients were unable to perform any activities an average of 2.89 days per week versus 2.25 days per week for non-traumatic headache. In addition, activity was reduced an average of 3.31 days per week for traumatic patients versus 2.62 days per week for non-traumatic patients.
This study reveals that traumatically occurring headaches are associated with greater disability than non-traumatic headaches.