Head or neck injury increases the risk of chronic daily headache: A population-based study

James R. Couch*, Richard B. Lipton, Walter F. Stewart, Ann I. Scher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the extent to which head and neck injury (HANI) contributes to chronic daily headache (CDH). BACKGROUND: In prospective studies, head injury is associated with headache (HA) that remains a problem at 12 to 24 months post-head injury in 20 to 30% of patients. Of these, up to 30 to 50% manifest CDH. The degree to which head injury contributes to CDH has not been evaluated in a non-clinical population. We evaluate the relationship between lifetime occurrence of HANI and CDH in a randomly chosen population sample. METHODS: Study participants are from the Frequent Headache Epidemiology Study. Cases with CDH (≥180 HA/year) and a comparison group with episodic headache (EH, 2 to 102 HA/year) were identified from the general population. Subjects were asked about lifetime occurrence of HANI. HANI were further classified as potentially precipitating injuries (PPI) if they occurred within 2 years of CDH onset for cases or in an equivalent 2-year period for EH controls. RESULTS: Lifetime occurrence of HANI was more frequent in cases than controls for men (adjusted OR = 3.1 [1.3 to 7.2]), women (OR = 1.5 [0.97 to 2.3]), and overall (OR = 1.7 [1.1 to 2.4]). The attributable risk was 15% (36% men, 11% women). Results were similar for PPI. The odds of CDH increased with the number of lifetime HANI in all groups (p < 0.05 trend). CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that head and neck injury (HANI) accounts for approximately 15% of chronic daily headache (CDH) cases in this non-clinical population. The relationship between HANI and CDH was not limited to injuries proximate to CDH onset. The lifetime risk of CDH increases with increasing number of HANI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1177
Number of pages9
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


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