If you experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a car accident, fall, or other cause, headaches may be your constant companion. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms following a TBI. However, we haven’t known if those headaches were short-term, long-term, or something in between.

Now a new study shows that when people develop headaches following a TBI, those headaches can persist for five years or more after the accident. However, TMJ can also occur in many accidents that cause TBI, and that can also be a cause of lingering headaches.

Long-Term Data

In this study, whose results were presented at the 58th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, researchers looked at headaches among more than 300 individuals who experienced TBI. The TBI were rated as moderate to severe brain injuries,

Researchers looked at the medical history of the subjects to assess prior headache history, and then researchers assessed the frequency, type, pain rating, and impact of headaches at each stage to assess the overall severity of headaches.

Only 17% of patients had headaches before their TBI, but over the course of the study, with evaluations at three, six, twelve, and 60 months after their injury about twice as many people reported headaches. Far from getting better, people’s headaches seemed to get worse. At each evaluation, about a third of all subjects reported new or worsening headaches, so that by the end of the study period, virtually all the people had headaches. By the end of the study more than a third of subjects had multiple headaches a week or even daily headaches.

The pain of the headaches did not increase over the study period, but remained between 5.6 and 6.4 on a ten-point scale. More than half of the headaches could be classified as migraine or possible migraine.

TMJ, TBI, and Headaches

The results of this study should be considered preliminary until they are reviewed and published in a scientific journal, but it highlights an important issue: the effects of a serious accident can be lingering and difficult to deal with. For many types of accidents, including car accidents, falls, and head traumas, TMJ can also be an outcome that will end up causing lingering headaches.

The above study focused on moderate or severe brain trauma, but accidents that cause much more minor brain injury might cause lingering headaches not because of the brain injury but because of TMJ.

If you have been experiencing lingering headaches as well as other symptoms of TMJ in Columbia, SC since your accident, then you should talk to a neuromuscular dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry. Please call (803) 781-9090 today to schedule your appointment.