The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

The Journal of Headache and Pain Cover Image

Volume 15 Supplement 1

Abstracts from the 4th European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress: EHMTIC 2014

Open Access

EHMTI-0040. Headaches after traumatic spinal cord injury

  • L Sabre1,
  • M Rugo2,
  • J Kõrv1 and
  • M Braschinsky1
The Journal of Headache and Pain201415(Suppl 1):B30

Published: 18 September 2014


Public HealthInternal MedicineSpinal CordBack PainBrain Injury


Patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) often suffer from different types of pain. However, headaches (HA) after TSCI have not been studied specifically.


To examine the HAs among patients with TSCI.


The cross-sectional study included individuals with TSCI from 1997 to 2011 who were interviewed via telephone. The interview based on a specifically designed questionnaire.


There were 9 women and 64 men (mean age 37.1 ± 10.6 years). The most frequently mentioned pain was HA (71%), followed by back pain (60%) and pain in neck (44%). HAs were more frequent after the trauma compared with the HAs before TSCI (p=0.01). The HAs that arose after TSCI were not related to the concomitant brain injury (p=0.80). The occurrence of HA did not depend on the severity nor the level of the TSCI.

The most frequently reported HA located in the occipital, was pulsating and lasted from 1 to 3 hours. The maximal intensity of the pain was 6.9 ± 2.0 according to the Numeric Rating Scale.

Due to the HA 85% of the patients were not seen by any physician and their HA was not diagnosed.


This is the first study that shows that HA is the most prevalent pain after TSCI. Despite this, the majority of patients are never consulted, diagnosed or appropriately managed due to their HA. This indicates that further studies are needed to provide evidence regarding the causes of HA and their impact on quality of life.

No conflict of interest.

Authors’ Affiliations

Depratment of Neurology and Neurosurgery, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
Faculty of Medicine, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia


© Sabre et al; licensee Springer. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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