Curious about my concussion

When I was a kid, I rode my bike all the time.  The riding was for pure pleasure, not usually related to the need for a quick commute.  I occasionally rode my bike to my elementary school (which was in the neighborhood), but the vast majority of my rides were with friends, cruising around the neighborhood, feeling the wind in our hair, trying to see who could zoom down the hills the fastest. We never wore helmets (ah, the 80s)—seeing kids on bikes these days, all of them adorned with helmets, it’s hard to believe we didn’t have them.

I’m sure I fell off my bike a lot. Skinned knees and elbows weren’t a huge deal back then.  Once my neighbor M. came over to show off her brand-new bike, the first one I’d ever seen with hand brakes instead of foot brakes.  M. was so proud of her bike and let us take turns on it.  I got up some serious speed and decided to slow down, squeezing the hand brake about twenty times harder than necessary. I flew off the bike, careening over the handlebars and landing on the asphalt, elbows scraping and my buck teeth hitting the street.  My front tooth was chipped, and the next day my entire third grade class couldn’t stop looking at my half-tooth.  I felt like a celebrity. A black-and-blue celebrity, but  celebrity all the same.

My most severe bike accident was when I was twelve years old.  My sister and I went on a ride with our next-door neighbor J.  In those days, many Saturdays were spent in search of a really good garage sale.  On the way back home, my sister and J. were well ahead of me (they were always much faster—J. even had a speedometer on his bike, which I was obsessed with). They crossed a street with ease, but as I approached it I realized too late that a car was coming.  I took a sharp right turn to avoid getting in traffic’s way and ended up turning too sharply, my front wheel in the gutter.  I fell and hit my head (I guess on the curb).  The rest of the memory is hazy. I remember getting up, my friend L.’s house about 100 yards away from me across the street.  I vaguely recall whispering her name, calling for help.  I somehow couldn’t muster the strength to yell for her.  I’m not sure what happened next or how long it took me to get home, but I eventually got up and either rode or walked my bike back home.  My sister had been wondering where I’d gone, and my parents were concerned. (Later they told me I was disoriented when I arrived home but that, when questioned, I claimed nothing was wrong.)  My parents asked my sister to sit with me, and I basked in her attention—she was 16 at the time, and I was 12, and moments when she actually sat with me willingly were few and far between.  My sister read me a book as she played with my hair—unbeknownst to me, my parents had asked her to feel around my head to figure out if there was a bump to indicate I had fallen.  Lo and behold, she found the bump and my parents drove me to the hospital right away.

At the ER, I was diagnosed with a mild concussion and a minor foot injury.  I wore one of those flat shoes to immobilize my foot but don’t remember any significant pain or discomfort in my head.

Years later, I started learning more about migraine disease and its relation to concussion, and I got to wondering if that concussion in 1992, however mild, helped kick-start the migraines that were to become regular players in my life by the following year.  (It’s possible I had migraines before I was 13, but I don’t remember them as vividly as I remember my “really bad headaches” when I was 13 and beyond).

Have you ever suffered from a head injury or concussion?  How, if at all, has it triggered or exacerbated your migraine frequency or severity?  

To read more about the relationship between migraine and concussion, please visit this link

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (23)
  • pjdawgs
    4 years ago

    Migraine Girl (Janet) and anyone else

    I just wanted to follow up about the therapy I mentioned in my earlier post. While I am far from being migraine or even headache free the therapy has been a good improvement. I have gone for just a few appointments so far and each time I see more improvement. The migraines have not been as severe or as long, the headaches are better and even the movement in my neck is better.

    I know nothing works for everyone and I too hate when people ask “have you tried_____” but I am glad I tried this and think it could be helpful for others.

  • Elizabeth
    4 years ago

    I have an acquired brain injury after an electric shock (I touched an electric fence when on a gap year where I blacked out) and have had migraines ever since.

  • pjdawgs
    4 years ago

    Wow this article really spoke to me in a very big way. I have suffered 7 and possibly 8 concussions in my life. The most recent was 11/2006 which is what turned my entire life upside down. I was 35 at that time and life seemed good. I was at work and slipped on a patch of ice and fell hitting the back of my head on the blacktop/ asphalt. I hit so hard I didn’t have a goose egg rather my entire head swelled. To this day my head is still swelled and when I wear fitted hats I went from a 7 or occasional 7 1/8 to now usually 7 1/4 with occasional 7 3/8.
    I went through a long and difficult process with multiple doctors of different specialties while work comp was in charge of my care. After over a year and a half work comp stopped providing care stating the was nothing more that could be done. I had to go on long term disability and try to figure out a way to cope with chronic pain, chronic non stop headaches also with chronic migraines. I went through a very dark time in my life with all the changes.
    I eventually found a pretty good doctor that was doing everything medically possible he knew of. I had reached the end of my rope with all the pain with the most difficult being the migraines. This medical doctor realized it may be best to try a behavioral pain management approach. That has helped me cope better but at this point there is still high levels of pain. During the time working with behavioral pain doctor I found a top notch medical doctor. He did some different things medically that helped me have some days of pain at a little less intensity but still not a way I really want to spend the rest of my life.
    In the past few years with this behavioral approach and the top notch medical doctor I have questioned about my multiple concussions and my chronic migraines. Couple years ago with all the football and concussion talk I pressed the issue even more. I also have severe bouts with depression so during some of the football stuff in the media it frightened me when the Kansas City Chiefs (I live in KC) player committed suicide that was possibly related to concussions.
    My birthday is July 14th and after a small outing to have dinner with some friends for some reason I actually watched the news. I typically get news via internet. So that night on the news they had a segment about concussions and the lingering effects including migraines. I was still cautious so I wouldn’t get excited, find out it wouldn’t help me and face disappointment. However I immediately called my behavioral pain doctor. I told him, found the article on the local news website and text him the page. I also somewhat hopeful yet skeptically mentioned that if this could provide some significant help it may turn out to be the best birthday present I could ever get my entire life.
    I was already schedule to see my medical pain doctor and he happens to practice within the same medical school/center as the doctor with this concussion news. After seeing my medical doctor he said it was worth trying as it doesn’t seem to be high risk as say surgery etc. I was quickly set up to check on this concussion stuff.
    I will say I have gone from hopeless regarding my chronic pain & migraines to now I am neutral. That is a big step for me. I honestly right now am afraid to have hope because I have been let down so much regarding anything from procedures, injections, even massage and acupuncture. I have had my first appointment/consult and while being realistic the therapist and I don’t think I will be “fixed” but she thinks she can help provide some significant relief. I am leaning towards having hope. I have done over 3 years of traditional neck physical therapy going 2 or 3 times a week that honestly did nothing but get me out of the house in my dark depression. This is not something in trial phase and not really pioneer phase but is starting to get some attention and doctors seeking info and sending more patients.
    I am not wanting to push or advertise and maybe this will or may not help. I don’t know yet but know after a consult and brief therapy I could physically sense a very minor difference. I had about 12 hours of no migraine and some improvement in my non migraine headache. Based upon the news segment and what the therapist shared with me this treatment isn’t something that would be on going forever maintenance treatment. For my evaluation she feels roughly 8-10 therapy sessions. That appointment was just 2 days ago and then tonight I finally opened the email from migraine.com leading to this article. This really possibly could be the best birthday present ever in my life as well as the longest to receive gift. It was good to see that concussion & migraine connection is something others are experiencing so it isn’t me and some crazy idea with no merit.
    Janet thank you for your article and to the others that have commented. I may be a little nuts in a fun goofy way but if I am crazy then there are several others who are too, LOL. I will share the link to the news talking about this treatment even though I don’t yet have a “success story” since only had consult. If it can help other it is worth my early share. I also know with migraines especially chronic that things that help one person does not always help all migraine sufferers. I go for next appointment on Monday and will try to post an update if any if you would like me too.

    http://www.kshb.com/news/health/new-treatment-is-giving-relief-to-concussion-patients

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    pjdawgs,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I feel so sad reading about how much pain you’ve been in, but I also feel hopeful that this new treatment may help you feel at least a little better. Please do keep us posted, and I know I and the rest of the Migraine.com team will be rooting for you!

    Take care,
    Janet G.

  • srgallivan
    4 years ago

    I have had migraines with aura since I was 13 years old. When I was 28, I was riding in the back of a pick-up truck and the driver slammed on the brakes because another vehicle pulled out in front of us. I flew forward and hit the upper back side of my head on the toolbox that was mounted to the truck. I was at a summer music festival with friends, so I didn’t go get checked out, but am sure that I had a mild concussion. I was a bit disoriented for a while. A couple of months later I noticed that I was no longer getting the aura with my migraines, so I decided to see a neurologist. He said that the hit to the head could have caused a change in my migraines, but didn’t feel that there was anything to be concerned about. The aura was absent for about a year, then it came back and has been back with me and my migraines ever since. I still think that it seems strange.

  • valerielong
    4 years ago

    While I don’t believe mine were caused by a concussion, my mother and I are convinced my migraines are a side effect from the seizure I had when I was 13 months old. I seized after having had a high fever for several days and the seizure itself lasted 45 minutes. I was on anti-seizure medication until I was 5 years old. It was approximately 6 months after I had been weaned off the medication that I started having migraines. However, since all of my EEGs have come back “normal” (even the one they did immediately following my seizure), most doctors, particularly the neurologists don’t think it’s related. My mom and I are still convinced that it is. The timing is just too suspect in our minds.

    However, I have had a concussion dismissed by an ER because of my history of migraines. It was winter and I slid down a bank, landed on my butt on the sidewalk and hit my head against a concrete retaining wall. I think I might have momentarily passed out, but I’m not positive. I had been on my way to work and at that point continued in. About halfway through my shift, the pain became unbearable and I had my parents come pick me up. We went to the ER and even though I described what happened, because of my history of migraines, I really don’t think the doctor took the idea of a concussion seriously. 🙁 Thankfully, my mom was a nurse before I was born and she kept an eye on me and I didn’t get any worse, but it’s frustrating to have the doctor simply dismiss what could’ve been a serious injury because of my previous history.

  • marycr8on
    4 years ago

    Like all the others who have replied to this post, I had some head injuries too, as a child. The first one happened when I was about 8. We had a glider swing in our backyard on a cement pad. I was hanging onto the back of the seat and swinging alone. I stepped back and tripped over the railroad tie that held it on the ground. I fell face first onto the cement and had a huge welt on my forehead. I don’t remember if I passed out or not. The second time was in 6th grade. I was bucked off a horse and landed flat on the top of my head. The last one, at 17 was from a surface drive in shallow water, also on the top of my head. Both of those were hard enough impact that I felt a little crunch in my neck. I did have my neck adjusted so I could turn my head, but I didn’t black out either of those times. I’ve had chronic daily migraines for over 30 years, but they didn’t really start for 5 years after the last accident.

  • ChristieS
    4 years ago

    I’ve always wondered about the accident I had as a child. I was about 9 or 10. Playing in the neighbor’s garage with the other kids, I slipped and fell backwards, striking my head on the concrete floor hard enough that the roof of my mouth bled. This was the mid 60’s, and my parents didn’t have much money, and none to spare for doctor visits so I got no medical exam or treatment. I have had migraines since I was 11 years old – nearly 50 years now. I periodically have cluster headaches as well. MRI’s haven’t shown anything. I suffered a concussion 2 years ago and have been having near daily migraines since.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    ChristieS,

    Oh, the description of your childhood accident just made me want to give you a hug. That sounds terrible. That injury certainly could have played a major role in your development of migraine. My MRIs are always unremarkable (a good thing–I don’t want any irregularities showing up!), but that doesn’t mean that my migraines and/or head pain aren’t real. I hope you have considered visiting a headache specialist for your now near-daily migraine episodes. I will be thinking of you.

    Take care,
    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • Ginny
    4 years ago

    Hi Christie, I had a very bad fall while ice skating when I was 9 years old. I don’t think I had a concussion but ever since then I have had migraines. It’s going on 54 years now. I also have always wondered if that had anything to do with my headaches since then.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Interesting take. I do wish (as I always do) that more research dollars were allocated to migraine research so we understood the ins and outs of this illness better.

    Take care, & I’m sure we’ll communicate again soon on the forums!

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • CathyC
    4 years ago

    Hi Janet ! I’ve always wondered if the doozey of a concussion I suffered from an ATV accident in the Oregon Coast Dunes stirred the pot even further. I was in my early 20’s and thankfully wearing a helmet. I was on a straight path when a woman up a hill out of no where and later said “she thought she could beat me before our paths crossed”. Those who witnessed it said I bobbed back and forth inside like a rag doll,my helmet hitting the roll bar cage. I was strapped in well too.I had about 10 stitches above my left eye,the sunglasses had cut me,horrible headache that you just have to deal with. My whole demeanor wasn’t the same and my eyes had trouble following movement like tv or reading. I was safe. I’d always been “headache prone”, that’s what my Mom called it prior to this. Too after reading Migraine.com I found an article about Alice in Wonderland Syndrome…good golly “this was me as a child !” I never told anyone because I knew they’d think I was nutso. Anyway about 6mos after my ATV accident I had my first black out yet you can still hear incident. Woah. Thankful there were 2 other people with me to help me find a place to go sit down. We’d been out and had some pizza and beers the night before so that’s probably what triggered it without me knowing so. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with Migraine Disease until 2009.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    CathyC,

    Thank you for sharing your stories! That ATV accident sounds horrific. I’m grateful your alive though disappointed that the migraine frequency got worse. Please keep reading and responding on Migraine.com–I, too, often discover “weird” things about myself that actually turn out to be migraine-related. It’s nice to feel a little less crazy. 🙂

    Take care,
    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • labwhisperer
    4 years ago

    Two years ago, I was thrown off my bike from a rope someone had tied across the road at neck level. I could not stop or unclip in time and landed on my back, broke my helmet and had a case of whiplash where I could not lift my head off the pillow. I have had hormonal migraines for the 16 years before the accident but now I get at least 2 migraines a week.
    My MRI is normal, but now the migraines affect my temporal nerve and neck. I have failed on my last 3 preventative medications.
    I have always been an extremely active person and try not to let the migraines get me down. It does get very frustrating and discouraging.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    labwhisperer,

    That accident sounds horrific! I’m grateful you’re still able to be active some of the time–exercise is one of the best preventive measures you can take, and without that I’m sure your migraine frequency would be more severe.

    Hang in there.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • KB
    4 years ago

    Hmmm…when I had my first migraine at age 8, I distinctly remember my parents questioning the Brownie (girl scouts) leader about me hitting my head. It stuck out in my mind because she actually came to our house and I remember seeing her frowning face through a haze of nausea. I’d always thought this was some random idea my parents had..but now I am wondering if something DID happen. Thanks for this information!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    KB:

    Through the lens of memory and potential head injury, it can be hard to remember with any accuracy the exact details, huh? But that’s pretty interesting. I wonder, too, if you had a head injury.

  • Bill K
    4 years ago

    I never had migraines until I had back-to-back concussions. Now, 20 years later, I have a migraine every 6-10 days and I’ve had a constant headache for the last 3 years.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Bill K,

    I’m sorry to hear that. Have you had any success with treating your daily headache, or do you have a formal diagnosis? I hope you’ll seek help for that.

    Take care, and keep us posted.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • caringmom
    4 years ago

    My son suffered two concussions in 2012. He has had a constant headache since the last concussion, with many, many three day migraines. He was beginning to get migraines before his fall, so that may have impacted his recovery. We tried every treatment we could think of. Finally he has shown improvement after almost a year of vision therapy and also being adjusted by an ao chiro. He still has a headache every day, but the frequency and duration of his migraines have lessened. We are hoping he continues to move closer to a full recovery now.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    caringmom:

    I’ll be thinking of your son. He is so fortunate to have you–it sounds like you are doing a stellar job at getting him the care he needs.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • pixiescure
    4 years ago

    I hit my hit at work almost three years ago. I’ve had a headache almost everyday since then. I had migraines before the head injury, was getting treatment for depression, and was on chemotherapy less than a year before I hit my head. I think all of these things contributed to the endless cycle of headaches.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    pixiescure:

    Oh, goodness. That sounds really tough. Have you seen a migraine or headache specialist about your near-daily headaches? There may be treatment options that can help you.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

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