Medical management of posttraumatic headaches: pharmacological and physical treatment

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 1999 Feb;14(1):34-48. doi: 10.1097/00001199-199902000-00006.


Posttraumatic headache can be a very difficult syndrome to manage, especially if chronic. As with most other types of headache, medications are the primary treatment modality, although there is very limited evidence-based data to support any given approach. A number of physical interventions also are available to be used in conjunction with medication, particularly for headaches with a musculoskeletal component. This article will review the general principles of pharmacological treatment for headache and the physical approach to treatment of headaches and head and facial pain. The major categories of medications commonly used for treatment of many varieties of headache will be discussed. In addition, the problems encountered in diagnosing and treating chronic daily headache and analgesic rebound headache are addressed. The approach to treatment of such syndromes as myofascial pain, cervico-zygapophyseal joint pain, neuritic pain, and craniocervical somatic pain are outlined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications*
  • Ergotamine / therapeutic use
  • Headache / drug therapy*
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / drug therapy
  • Sumatriptan / therapeutic use
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Sumatriptan
  • Ergotamine