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Headaches Following Stroke

A reader asked for information on chronic headaches that began after a stroke when the patient was in his late 50s. All that I find is about headaches as a warning sign of stroke.

Do you have know any sources on headaches following a stroke? If so, please leave a comment.

Thanks!

45 Responses to Headaches Following Stroke

  1. Christina P says:

    Twenty-five per cent of strokes will present with headache as a symptom of the stroke. Usually, though, the headache is not a persisting problem.

    You do not mention whether the stroke was a hemorrhagic stroke (due to bleeding into the brain), or a thrombotic stroke (due to clot), or due to small vessel disease (damage of the blood vessel wall). A hemorrhagic stroke would be most likely to leave a sequela of headache.

    It would also be important to know whether or not there is residual high blood pressure.

    In other words, it depends, and is highly individualized to the patient, who should see a neurologist about his headaches.

    *********
    As is everything headache-related, but thanks for the good start!

    Kerrie

  2. Roy says:

    Kerrie,

    I reaize it is over a year since you posted your question. My mother is 65, had a stroke last month (small vessel disease) and complains of the most severe headaches she has ever had. They are all the same as what she felt when she had the stroke (on the right side of her head behind her eye). They come at least once a day, if not more often.

    She has seen a Neurologist and other Dr.’s. No one can figure it out, they just prescribe tylenol with Codein.

    Do these resemble the headaches you saw? If so, did the headaches eventually go away? Or do they persist?

    I have also been unable to find any research on this.

  3. Megan says:

    Roy – Kerrie is on vacation until later this month and I am holding the fort. I will bring your comment to her attention so she can respond. I hope your mother’s pain resolves soon!
    - Megan

  4. Derek says:

    Hi, headaches are commonly a symptom for a stroke. Are you diagnosed with high blood pressure? Commonly hypertension patients experienced headaches oftenly. I would recommend you to consult your doctor as soon as possible. Take care of your health

  5. mike says:

    Hi, this message is for Roy Or Kerrie. How are the headaches now? what meds were used?

  6. John says:

    I had three blood clots (strokes) all at once when I was 50. I am now 52. Luckily, I have had little permanent damage except for loss of balance and daily headaches. Neurologists I have been to have told me that it is uncommon for stroke patients to have headaches after strokes and seem to not take me seriously. I continue working, I am an editor of a newspaper, but the daily headaches — from a dull ache to migraine — are wearing me down. I try to not take pain medication and only do when I just cannot get to sleep at night and the pain is immense. It is the lack of anywhere to go for help that is frustrating for me.

  7. Marty S. says:

    I suffered an eschemic stroke in November secondary to a blockage and a bleed (carotid). Since then, I have returned to work full time. However, I am suffering with severe headaches that seem to effect my vision (becomes blurred) and some nauseau. These headaches occur almost daily. The only other residaul effect from stroke are my fine motor skills. No one seems able to tell me why I am experiencing these headaches. Any comments??

  8. Melissa says:

    I had a stroke early november of ’10. Had two bleeds on the brain caused by hypertension that nobody, including my doctors, knew existed. I’m told by my neurologist and cardiologist that frequent headaches are VERY common after a stroke. Something about the brain healing, absorbing all the extra blood etc. They say that the headaches will vary person to person but can last at LEAST 6 weeks after the stroke and they are not surprised when I tell them I’m still getting at least one per day. I just take a Tylenol now and it usually takes care of the problem.
    Hang in there folks, it does get better it just takes time for the body to heal.

  9. Kim says:

    I am 30 years old and had an ischemic stroke in December ’10. I had a mild history of migraines prior to my stroke, but in the last two months, migraines and daily headaches have become the norm. I have been trying to find a balance between taking prescription meds and over the counter meds to manage the pain. I have found very little information about headaches following a stroke and when to be worried and what is to be expected. I was very lucky, as I have had very few other side effects from the stroke, and am interested to find out how much of the headache pain can be related to the recovery.

  10. Dena says:

    My husband suffered a second (first was almost 2 years ago) lacunar infarct of the left basal ganglia about 3 weeks ago and the headache, nausea and dizziness have been constant since then. Like most have you we have been told it has nothing to do with the stroke, but no one can tell us what it is due to or how to relieve it. Waiting on a neuro appt. Hopefully will be able to get some answers. God bless all of you. Here’s to hoping we all find the answers and relief that is so needed!

  11. viktorka says:

    Looking around on the internet I see that half of the doctors say it is common to have headaches after stroke and half of them say it is very rare. What is the truth?

  12. cap says:

    My wife has suffered 2 strokes in 05, and have since has suffered from these daily headaches. She is currently on Hydroco/apap 10-325, neurontin,and But/apap/caf(fioricet),tylenol. The headaches sometimes subside and return, I have been searching for an answer and to no avail. I don’t know if the other medications are a true comtibuting factor to the headaches(most medications have side effects of headaches). I’m in need of a doctor who will take the time to evaluate all of her meds. I have tried several doctors to find no help. It hurts me to see her in pain that I cannot help. I can only give her what she is prescribed and have to watch her PT/INR level, since she is on coumadin.

  13. Sherry says:

    My husband had a stroke almost a year ago and since then he suffers daily headaches. The stroke impaired his vision in both eyes, but the headaches are on the right side of his head. He starts seeing black dots in the right eye and then here comes the headache. We are at a complete loss of what to do. I took him to a neuro opthomaloigist and he said he may suffer the headaches for the rest of his life. These headaches have affected every aspect of our lives.

  14. Cheryl says:

    I sympathise with you all because I know how frustrating it is to try and get answers from the medical professionals. I had a hemmoraghic stroke due to high blood pressure in September 2010 and although I have progressed greatly, I still suffer daily from “burning”, “bruising” pains in my head. My whole head used to pain but now it mostly pains on the side I had the bleed.I say “bruising” pains because it’s the same pain as when you bump your head. If I rub that area it seems to relieve it for a short while.The “burning” pains just come and go all day. The pain actually exhausts me. My Specialist prescribed Tramacet tabs for me. Unfortunately they don’t help at all. I went back to see him last month to complain about the persisting pain but he sent me for a neck x ray which showed that all was well with my neck (which I could have told him)It obviously is due to the stroke that I have this pain, but I don’t know what to do to get answers and relief.My bood pressure is under control so I don’t get headaches from high blood pressure. Anyone out there who can help ? Please I’m desperate.

  15. nancy gregory says:

    I took my mom to the dr. for headaches and he started her off with low dose topiramate25mg then he will increase if needed. If was the first time in a month we both had almost a full nights sleep. She was getting up every hr. to go to the restroom. Now only once also it does not interact with a lot of the drugs she is on.

  16. Gayle says:

    I had a mini stroke which affected my whole left side including speech. It has been three weeks and I have mostly recovered everything. Everyday I get the same headache I had before the stroke. I can push on the parts of my head that hurt and that makes it hurt more. The Drs. have all said they don’t know what it is: sinus, cervical vertebrae, etc., etc. I get very dizzy and sick to my stomach with the pain and sometimes my arm and leg go numb, just like before the stroke. Nothing helps. I have high BP. and am on meds. For a few days, taking 1/2 of a Benedril helped a lot, so I thought it was allergy. It no longer helps. I found the greatest help in controlled breathing: a short quick intake breath and a long out go breath. Also, extreme stretching of my limbs as with Yoga has helped a great deal. The Yoga hurts when I do it, but it eases the pain afterwards. But the breathing is the greatest help.

  17. WILLOWS MOM says:

    I had a stroke two months ago. No headache until they released me from the hospital. I had migrains, until I had a massive heart attack. For 8 years after the heartattack no migrains. Now I have a nasty lowgrade ache in my head, most of the prior posts mention the right side of the head hurting, interesting. I am trying accurpuncture and other eastern medicine. I am affraid to add more chemicals to my system. I know a chiropractor helped my migraine pain. However, that treatment did not stop the headaches.

  18. april says:

    i am 26 years old and had a stroke in aug 2011. ever since then i keep these headaches that don’t seem to want to go away. what can i do???

  19. Doanl O'Connor says:

    I am a male of 56 years and had a chronic subdural haematoma in 1997 and following a burr hole evacuation, had two further spontaneous bleeds, reasons unknown. I have suffered from pulsile type headaches ever since, where sometimes my vision is blurred and on some occasions, the pain radiates down both of my arms. I have seen numerous neurologists and have had loads of MRI scans but nothing has shown up except scarring from the original bleed. The last diagnosis I had was for post-traumatic migraine but so far no medication has helped. I have some slight problems with my speech and have poor concentration and short term memory. I had a black-out the other day while standing on a chair and reaching over my head to adjust a light fitting. My GP said that this happened because my corotid artery was kinked because of bending my neck back and this problem is often seen in women after they have been to the hairdresser having had their neck bent back in a hood-type dryer.
    Help anyone?

  20. Paul says:

    I have had 2 Strokes one in 2005 & One in 2009 I now do get very frequent headaches (Daily) are those signes of another Stroke to come?

  21. Natalie says:

    I am 24, and less than 3 months ago I suffered from an ischemic thalamic stroke. I still haven’t regained all the feeling in my left hand and often lose it in my face. I have a long history of migraines, some lasting up to 2 weeks at a time. Because of my lack of insurance, I can not find a neurologist that will even consider speaking with me. I am still unsure of what even caused the blood clot that caused my stroke. Anyway, my migraines now are so severe I can not function. I lose the ability to speak, walk, make a fist with either hand, weakness in all limbs, nausea and vomitting, and my blood pressure spikes. I can not get any medical professional to understand that I know what a migraine is, and this is no ordinary migraine. The pain gets so severe that I have “blacked out” before. I can’t keep doing this. I am on 325mg of aspirin a day, but it was suggested that I up it to 650mg. I honestly don’t think my body could handle more. If there happens to be anyone out there with any kind of answers or suggestions, please help me. I live in East Tennessee, if anyone even has a lead on a neurologist. Thank you all for helping me feel not so alone. God Bless

  22. I had two strokes in April of 2011.Since then I have daily headaches from anywhere from mild to major,but regardless daily.My neuorologist says she does not believe in narcotics.I do not like to take them,but some days its all that works.I have also continued to have loss of memory,and it seems to be getting worse.

  23. Mr. Brown says:

    I too suffered a stroke in May of 2011. I am 30 years old and in perfect health. The reason for the stroke are still unclear but a clot is suspected. I have a history of migraine but they were occasional. Since the stroke I take baby aspirin every morning and have frequent headaches and have no reason from the doctors as to why. For the post few months the headaches have been everyday. Nothing overpowering just there in the background. Sometimes I even feel like my brain is buzzing at night. So strange?? But doctors keep telling me nothing is wrong and my heath is perfect. Medication such as tylenol or advil does not take the headache away. I wonder what else I can use. I do fear this may be a sign for a stroke to hit again since the headaches have picked up. Just praying to God that I’m as good to go as the doctors say. I pray we all find answers. God bless.

  24. Terry Jones says:

    I had, what you would call in the medical field as a “watershed” stroke. Which, what I was told is due to a rapid decrease in blood pressure. Ironically, it was alomost 2 weeks to the day, thet I had started high blood pressure medicine. Also, ironically, there was absolutly no way the medicine could have been a cintributing factor according to the hospital and doctors. The stroke presented its ugly self on my left frontal lobe and of course effected my right side of the body, totally sucks, since I am right handed. I have a question….I have had migraines…but these are much, much worse…my head even hurts to lay it on the matress. Stress and fatigue are haunting me and my husband. He does not try to understand and he can not understand why I am spent went I get home from work. I am JUST so tired, can I fix this…PLEASE healp. My head is stil F’ed up and unfortunately the person I work with plays a sick, sadistic game with my head. I know…..my husban is unemployed so dupping this want to be “Primo” (hair abve minumim wage, is out of the question. Please stop the headache and I am sure it will help some. Thank you,

  25. April says:

    I am 26 years old and I a stroke in Aug. 2011. Ans since then I suffer from serve migraines. And now the doctor says that I have panic attacks. So I know how all of you feel. The artery in the back of my neck dissected which caused me to be off balanced and unable to see. I was put in the hospital for 2 weeks and had a tube put in my head. I had headaches before the stroke.

  26. Jane says:

    My first question here is if any of you are getting a response from anyone with any type of answers or referrals?

  27. Jane says:

    I am hoping for some information if any can be given. My boyfriend had a stroke August 2009 @ 46 years old. (this is the short of things.)He has migraines 3-5 days a week. So.. They claim it was not a stroke after a battery of tests. They said he had a burnt nerve in his neck and when this “repairs” itself naturally the headaches should subside. They diagnosed him with Bell’s Palsy and insist that this is not the cause of said headaches. After seeing a number of specialist and trying about 15 different medications, from anti-seizure type, to migraine meds, to painkillers and various other types. However, none of these medications have helped. Even the pain medicines do not help. At this point he has stopped taking all medications except the occassional pain reliever. The frustrating thing is that it seems all of the doctors just say sorry there is nothing that can be done. However, they do not realize the cause and effect that this creates. After his disability ran out (and 2 years of fighting for permanent disability ssdi) he returned back to work as a diesel mechanic. However, we are at the stage again where he is going to be let go because he can either not be at work on a controlled substance (pain medicine) or has to call in because of the pain and nausea and sensitivity to light and sound, etc. Anyway, I am just hoping we can find a solution to the headaches. Thanks in advance.

  28. april says:

    what meds has he tried for the headaches? and have you been to a neurologist?

  29. debbie says:

    Wow! After reading all of these comments I feel like I am part of a family of people. I have had 2 strokes on my left side. I had a head injury which the doctors knew about in 2003 but thought was not an issue.
    They knew I needed other surgeries and time to heal but who would of thought a head injury even though they know the left side of my head hit the pavement hard. In 2005, everyday I had major migraines and they did the CAT and MRI’ s and saw 2 stokes on the left side. My blood pressure was always high as a child and adult but I wasn’t even 50 years of age until 2005 so this was unbelievable to me. Since then my migraines are worse and I can feel the 2 stroke areas that are damaged in my brain while I having my migraines. Yes, It is odd but true and I believe one day no matter what type of medication I am on (380 mg a day of inderal and 200 mg a day of topmax)I will finally have my last one and if that occurs I believe the left side pain will not be a problem and I will drift off and do thank GOD for going out quickly. I truly believe it will be fast. I just had MRI’s May 2012 and have doctors office in 2 days. I have been diagnosed with meniere disease and realize that is why I fall so much. My uncle died at age 62 after several years of brain tumors (cancerous) cut out of his brain.
    About working folks if you have these problems you will not be able to work.

  30. Robert Bell says:

    I had two strokes in October of 2012. A stint was put in and hopefully that’s that. Know I am trying to get back what I lost. On Novemer 27 I was doing some that exerted my self and I got headache, felt like one that you get when you drink or eat so ethi g cold to fast. It lingered all day. Since then whenever I do phisical activity it returns but seems to be In the back ground always. I was looking on line for info. Seems to be some confusion about headaches and strokes. Since I never got headaches before I have to sum mize it is related. At 50 I’m in good health all but the blockage that caused the strokes. I would like confirmation that this is not a sign of more to follow. Reluctant to go to the doctor. They will just do a lot of testing that will cost and no real diagnosis. The stories were good, I’m not in this boat alone. Aleve seams to help. I’ve been tired lately. So gonna try to get more rest to see if that helps. Any info regarding this would be helpful.

  31. jhong says:

    I have read the entire comment and only once did I saw the reply of the moderator or even the doctor. But the information I gather to all the shared experience of people that encounter headache post-stroke seems to be as common as the the stroke itself. Doctors may not think it is NOT common because people have different pain tolerance and people who luckily survives the stroke can provide this experience. I am also a victim of minor stroke just 2 weeks ago and undergone a number of test that shows nothing that might cause of this headache at back left side of my head.

    The brain and its function is still a less known part of the body because no one has ever live to tell the tale after their brain is studied under the microscope so even with the most sophisticated testing the brain shall still not provide the answer to all its mystery. All we can do is to try to put aside the pain mentally and do things that can take our mind off the pain. But still hoping for the best for all of us that is suffering with this dilemma.

  32. Pam says:

    My husband had a stroke 3 weeks ago in the left cerebellum which resulted in severe and constant headaches and dizziness. These were also the symptoms of the stroke. There has been no change from the sudden onset of the stroke. Dilaudid is the only medication the gives him any relief, but is also a strong narcotic and impairs his ability to actively participate in his rehabilitation. As with everyone else that has posted here the doctors seem unconcerned with the headaches. But they are severe and debilitating. Thanks to all who posted as it helps to know we are not alone. But I’m not sure how long he can deal with this pain.

    Any suggestions for relieving these headaches would be greatly appreciated.

  33. Robert Black says:

    I suffered a peripontine subarachnoid hemorrage four and a half weeks ago, I still have almost constant headaches. I have been taking the maximum amount of Tylenol since my release from the hospital (500mg every 4 hours).
    I can only hope this wont last much longer…

  34. Karen says:

    Like many of you my mom suffered a stroke 7 years ago and has experienced headaches ever since (scale of 1-10). The doctor doesn’t seem to be too helpful and I feel pretty helpless to help her. Everyone here has very similar symptoms yet there doesn’t seem to be anything to make everyone feel better.

  35. Magin says:

    My husband had a stroke in Oct. 09. since then he has developed severe migraines which will land him in ICU do to them looking like strokes or TIA. The Dr, including 4 different neurologists, here were no help in finding answers or giving him anything for the headaches. We have found that Fioricet and 1or2 cans of Coke depending on the severity will work. I found this by trial and error and by talking to other nurses I work with. Amitriptyline also seems to help as a preventative measure for him. The headaches are less now, but can be triggered by stress. I hope this helps all of you with the post stroke headache.

  36. Melinda says:

    My husband had a stroke when he was 25 that one was march 15 1998 he has a mini stroke and mad sauce stroke on march 5 2013 the first stroke left headaches that ran up the back of his neck into his forehead After this last stroke the headaches are now behind his right eye these headaches are dibilitating he can not function when he get them his doctor is currently treating him with a med called indemethosin he just started that yesterday

  37. Ruth says:

    Same story here…stroke at 35, now bad headaches, luckily not every day.
    amazing how many people suffer from post-stroke headache and the doctors are pretty helpless with it by the sound of things…what helps me is plenty of water and Tiger Balm on the spot under which it hurts(really, try it, I didn’t believe in it either…)
    also, stress seems to trigger it and my physio, who is doing research in post stroke pain syndromes, says it is quite common and due to the scarring in the brain. he says it can be a delayed reaction to stress (either emotional or physical, e.g. dehydration, fever/illness…) for up to ten days.
    very interesting.
    I haven’t seen him for a year, but my headaches are getting more frequent again so I will see him next week. will let you know it there are any new ideas after that!

  38. Marivel says:

    I had a stroke May 2011…Ever since then I have had a lingering headache. My doctors think that because my entire right side goes numb and slur my speech that they might Hemiplegic Migraines. Personally I am not really convinced of it. They prescribed me Tramadol. It seems to head the very serious nausea and screaming because of the pain.

  39. Dxee says:

    I had a Stroke August ’13. Headaches followed. In hospital I was brushing teeth started gagging tried clearing throat loudly. I was right near nurses station. No one came I gagged and grunted at least 10m or so. No one came, however I was told that it was a seizure later. After complaing so much about the headaches they took to MRI and said having seizures . I would dream profusely and remember every detail. To this day May 2013, I still have headaches. In hospital was prescribed SEIZURE MED(Levi??) or LEX??something -not sure about namely/caz not near my prescription bottle but it is a long word. TAKE 2XDAILY rest of my life per Neurologist. Very low dosage willnot affect me type med per N. NO MORE HEADACHES unless I get off schedule forget to take.
    Also I know exactly when I miss taking it. Head starts to hurt and @nite start dreaming a lot one after another wakes me up like dream was real, pressure pressure pressure in my head like a struggling nightmare in my head/dreams til I suddenly wake. I Take med and go back to sleep in about 15min. However, I was only brushing teeth didn’t have seizure — no nurse ever came to my rescue as I recall. But this diagnosis accompanied with prescription get rid of headaches as long as I take 2aday. Thx

  40. jannie says:

    I had a choroidal ischemia about 4 months ago. I had worst headache for days and then a flash of bright light in my left eye that lasted for hours and left a ghost on my eye which blinded me. I had bad headaches from about 10 years old, progressively getting worse (with aura) . I am now 46. have partial loss of my vision on the left eye. has gotten a little better, but now dr. says it will probably remain like this. I have terrible headaches on left side , behind eye, and headaches almost everyday, they start off and get worse everyday, with nausea, confusion, weakness, and flash of light in left eye like when I had the original ischemia. dr. says it may be due to scar tissue or something and it will also probably continue like this. don’t know how much worse headaches could get, and I tell my husband if I die of a stroke now it would probably be a blessing. it’s sad but also comforting to read all these stories and feel a connection with all of these people. u of m head of stroke clinic said he was unfamiliar with what happened to me, thankfully my neurologist in Dearborn mi is familiar with it, and I have a great eye specialist. it’s all so scarry and I assume i’ll die of a stroke now, kind of glad I was never able to have children now. I think dr’s are scratching their heads at a lot of these cases, and I do see some commonalities among stories. I have considered looking into acupuncture, and chiro does help but only for the rest of the day I see her. I do take zophran for nausea and it does work fast gives relief for that.

    • It sounds like you’ve been through the wringer. I wonder if your stroke somehow kicked your already present migraine into chronic and daily. What you describe as headaches sound a lot like migraine to me. Are you getting treatment for migraine?

  41. so tired says:

    I had a large Tia 3 years ago, I thought I was lucky to still have all my faculties. But then the headaches started and my neurologists cant figure it out.Has felt like we have thrown almost every drug possible at it. Currently on 40mg oxis 3x s day, at this point I would have traded my mobility and cognition to escape the headaches. I know at dome point the pain meds will not work anymore. I have tried many different holistic methods, next one on the list is hypnotherapy. Battling severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Stroke was caused by a clot and a PFO. If anyone has any suggestion would love to hear them.

  42. Carmella vanatta says:

    Hi all,
    Well I feel so discouraged reading all these letters. My husband suffered a stroke in nov 2012. He has some memory loss and the only other long term effect has been the horrible daily headaches. I don’t understand why there doesn’t seem to be one dr with an answer to this serious problem. To suffer with moderate to mostly severe headaches everyday of ones life is a horrible way to live.
    I hope someone out there has some good news concerning this problem. I just feel so bad for him.
    Take care all.
    Carmella vanatta

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