Is it Concussion or Migraine?

If you’re dealing with headache symptoms, and you suspect you may have had a concussion, it’s natural to ask – is it concussion or migraine?

First, some important background.  Many people don’t realize that concussion is a brain injury.  It’s important to start here, because there are still those who think that concussion is a minor, temporary injury.

Although some injuries are certainly worse than others, a single concussion can lead to long term problems.  For more see Is it a Concussion or a Brain Injury?

Concussion or Migraine?

So back to our question.  Concussion can lead to something known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS).  In PCS, although the concussion (read: mild brain injury) may have happened several days or even weeks ago, you start developing symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headache, anxiety, and insomnia.  (More about post concussion syndrome symptoms here)

Now PCS can indeed look a lot like migraine, and sometimes it is difficult to know the difference.  In fact, some might say that PCS is triggering actual migraine attacks.

But more likely when you ask if it is concussion or migraine, you’re asking if the concussion is at the root of the problem, and if you should be looking for treatment that is different from typical migraine treatment.

How to tell if you have PCS:  Here are some important clues.  First, in order to be diagnosed with PCS, your symptoms must be new.  These symptoms usually appear between a few days and four weeks of the concussion.  So if you’re having the same symptoms as before, you probably won’t be blaming them on the concussion.

If, however, you had struggled with headaches before the concussion, but your symptoms have changed, you may have PCS.  You should see a doctor without delay.

After you have confirmed that your symptoms are new, or that they have changed, your doctor will want to know more about they symptoms you’re experiencing, when they started, how severe they are, and so on.

If you decide after speaking with your doctor that you don’t have PCS, you still need a proper diagnosis for your symptoms.  There are various types of headache, and even various kinds of migraine.  Getting a specific diagnosis will help you find treatment that will be effective.

For more information, see Post Concussion Syndrome – causes and treatment

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