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Persistent Post-Concussion "Headaches"

I'll try to keep this short. 4 years ago I had a mild concussion. Ever since then I've been dealing with chronic headache-esque episodes on my left side. I say "esque," because there really isn't any pain.

What there is though is a very intense throbbing, tingling (almost burning,) and an overwhelming feeling as if the left side of my head is extremely inflamed.

These episodes can be extremely debilitating, and usually cause intense anxiety and, at their worst, even feelings of doom. Almost like a no-reason sensation of claustrophobia or something.

These "headaches" are always triggered by something. They never arrive randomly, or just hit me out of the blue. Depending on the intensity of the insult, they'll typically last anywhere from 1-9 hours.

Here is a list of triggers, in order of severity:

Warm/hot water (shower, bath, sauna)
Pushing during a BM (even very very gentle pushing)
Intense exercise (especially neck exercises)
Sexual arousal
Video games (fast-paced, intense, combat, etc)
Breath holding
Anything that triggers fight or flight
Inversion (handstand, yoga poses, etc)
Physical exertion
Typing (even typing this right now is causing a tingle/throb)

The only thing I've found that relieves symptoms is being face-down (whether laying face down or even hanging my head down, chin to chest, while standing.) Laying on my back doesn't help. Laying on my side helps some. But being face down is a silver bullet. Instant relief that lasts as long as I'm face down. Sometimes, when my symptoms are mild, laying face down for 20 minutes can even clear me up for the rest of the day.

Currently seeing a neuro for this. So far, he's stumped. MRIs looked good.

This is ruining my life. Most days I spend the second half of the day laying face down, just trying to hide from the throb.

What could all this mean? The triggers? The relief from being face down specifically. Does this ring any bells for anybody?

Any insight would be appreciated immensely.

  1. Hi - Thanks for posting and sharing your experience. I'm sorry to hear that you're going through all of this. First of all, you're most certainly not alone with all of this, and a lot of what you are going through is similar to what other community members have mentioned in the past.

    While I can't diagnose you and say what it all means, I can point you to some helpful articles about migraine and triggers. I am going to address your concerns from most severe/important to least.

    You had mentioned exercise as a trigger, which is more common than you'd think. Here is an article that discusses that in greater detail: It also has tips on how to begin exercising more without triggering a migraine.

    Another you mentioned was headaches when experiencing orgasm or sexual arousal. This is a very real thing, and can be addressed. Here's an article about it: I'm wondering as well if you are experiencing neck pain? Sometimes neck pain can be a trigger for migraine as well. Either way, here's an article to some solutions for that. Be sure to look in the comments for this one. There's some good stuff there: Please let us know if any of this resonates with you. We are here to answer any questions you might have to the best of our ability.

    Wishing you well, - Cody (Migraine. com Team Member)

    1. Hi Nancy. Thanks for the links. Sorry to hear you're dealing with similar issues. Have there been any big breaks in the case for you? Any big revelations that led to relief from symptoms or at least clarity on underlying maladies?

      Eating/sleeping routine is definitely one thing I've got in the bag. Sleep is typically my only refuge from these episodes, so I make dang sure that my sleep hygiene is impeccable.

      I think you're right that this may call for a specialist. I'll see what's in my area. It's a tricky situation because the behavior and symptoms don't really fit the mold of typical headaches or migraines.

    2. Thank you for the update. Being concussed makes things so much more complicated! I wish I could say I've found a breakthrough, but sadly that's not the case.
      Botox is beneficial strictly for migraine pain, and actually now that I think of it post traumatic headache. It's brought my daily head pain down to a much more manageable level.
      If you need help finding an expert, let me know!
      Wishing you a great day, Nancy Harris Bonk, Patient Leader/Moderator Team

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