Exercise Induced Headaches

know the facts. avoid the risk.

"The headache is the most common complaint of humanity"

Exercise-Induced headaches:


  • Affect nearly two-thirds of the population.
  • Are one of the most common problems faced by the modern athlete.
  • Affect both athletic and non athletic populations.

HOW DOES OUR HEAD FEEL PAIN?

In the brain, blood vessels register pain.

  • Sudden and dramatic increases in BP and HR cause forced vasodilation (expansion) of the blood vessels in your brain beyond their normal thresholds.
  • Vasodilation puts pressure on the meninges, (small nerves that cover the brain) which causes the painful headache.
  • Once the heart rate and blood pressure drop, the headache becomes less intense; however, the meninges remain extra sensitive, and are susceptible to future headaches if blood pressure or heart rate spike
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CLASSIFYING YOUR EXERCISE-INDUCED HEADACHE

Although, there are several types of Exercise-Induced Headaches, the two most common are:


  • Benign-Exertional Headache
  • Effort Headache

BENIGN-EXERTIONAL HEADACHE


  • Brought on by anaerobic physical exercise involving a straining or valsalva type manoeuvre.
  • Bilateral and throbbing in nature at onset and may develop migrainous features over time.
  • Longer Duration: up to 24 hours
  • Triggered by exercise and having no underlying neurological function.

INTRINSIC + EXTRINSIC FACTORS

Several intrinsic and extrinsic factors must be controlled for when determining if your EXERTIONAL-HEADACHE is strictly exercise-induced.
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EFFORT HEADACHE


  • Brought on by maximal or submaximal aerobic exercise.
  • Vascular type headache with a throbbing pain.
  • Symptoms exacerbated by hot temperatures.
  • Shorter Duration: 4 and 6 hours.
  • Triggered by exercise and have no underlying neurological function.

INTRINSIC + EXTRINSIC FACTORS

Several intrinsic and extrinsic factors must be controlled for when determining if your EFFORT HEADACHE is strictly exercise-induced.

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TREATMENT + PATIENT HISTORY


  • Presently there is NO SIMPLE CURE in addressing exercise-induced headaches.
  • Accurate diagnosis is important to ensure a positive treatment prognosis.
  • When performing an assessment of the individual in question, the PATIENTS HISTORY should be addressed in depth to provide a clear picture of the related intrinsic and extrinsic elements at play.
  • INDIVIDUALIZED management plans are important and should be developed, employing pharmacological and non-pharmacological means of treatment.


RECOMMENDATIONS:
-Proper warm-up before exercise.

-Minimization of intrinsic/extrinsic factors.

-Proper sleep hygiene.

-Good nutrition and proper hydration.

-Graduated Exercise Programs : progressively increase intensity

-NSAIDS prior to exercise

WHY IS PATIENT HISTORY SO IMPORTANT?

As clinical history is the most important component of assessment, it is essential to consider your athletes neurological baseline when diagnosing their exercise-induced headache. Specific characteristics of previous headaches can help determine if this is a reoccurring issue with similar intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Considering the family history and lifestyle choices are also important.


*Previous incident of head trauma should be noted.

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