Posttraumatic headache: neuropsychological and psychological effects and treatment implications

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 1999 Feb;14(1):49-69. doi: 10.1097/00001199-199902000-00007.


Posttraumatic headache (PTHA) is a frequent occurrence following trauma to the head, brain, and/or neck. Estimates of persistence for 6 months are as high as 44%. Review of available studies examining the effect of headache on neuropsychological test findings reveals that chronic headache pain, and chronic pain generally, exerts a significant and negative effect that poses a challenge to differential diagnostic efforts in the evaluation of mild brain injury. Given that PTHA is the most common postconcussive symptom and most frequent type of posttraumatic pain associated with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), it follows that resolution of the postconcussion syndrome, and successful posttraumatic adaptation, may frequently rely on success in coping with PTHA symptomatology. Viewing PTHA from a biopsychosocial perspective, a general outline is offered for improving both assessment and treatment of PTHA. In addition, the most promising psychology-based treatment interventions are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications*
  • Headache / etiology*
  • Headache / physiopathology
  • Headache / psychology*
  • Headache / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Personality
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Treatment Outcome