Post-Concussion Recovery: Headaches and Other Symptoms to Watch Out For

The CDC estimates that 1.6-3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the U.S. each year. That’s a worrying stat, considering that concussion can affect the victim’s cognitive functioning for weeks or months after the injury.

The good news is that most people who suffer from mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI) recover fully within 2-3 weeks. However, if you experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, sleep disturbances, irritability, mood swings, or other problems lasting longer than the expected healing range, you might be experiencing post-concussion syndrome (PCS). 

This blog will discuss some of the common symptoms associated with MTBI/PCS and how they may impact your life. We’ll also provide information on what it takes to get back to normal again.

What are the Most Common Symptoms of PCS?

The following symptoms may indicate that you have persistent post-concussive syndrome:

  • Headaches. This is one of the first signs of PCS. It’s not uncommon for someone suffering from PCS to experience frequent headaches.
  • Fatigue. Fatigue is another symptom often experienced by those recovering from an MTBI. You may feel tired all day long and find yourself unable to concentrate.
  • Dizziness. Some victims of MTBIs report feeling lightheaded when they stand up quickly, take a step forward, or turn their heads too far.
  • Nausea. If you’re nauseous, you may need to lie down or sit down.
  • Memory Loss. Memory loss is a common side effect of MTBIs. Your short-term memory may be affected, and your ability to recall names, dates, and places.
  • Sleep Disturbances. Sleep disorders such as insomnia are very common among those recovering from an MTBIs.
  • Irritability. Irritability is another common symptom of PCS. You may become angry at times, even though there’s no reason to get upset.
  • Loss of Balance. If you suffer from PCS, you may notice that you lose your balance easily, often falling over without warning.
  • Neck Pain. Many people who suffer from MTBIs complain about neck pain.
  • Mood Swings. Mood changes are common during recovery from an MTBI. These include depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, and confusion.

Of course, this is not an all-conclusive list. There are other minor symptoms that can only be detected through a therapist’s examination. So we highly recommend you schedule a visit with your physical therapist if you suspect any of your symptoms may be due to post-concussion. 

How Does Post-Concussion Syndrome Affect My Life?

If you’re dealing with these symptoms, you may be experiencing post-concussion syndrome. And while many of us think of this condition as something that happens to athletes, it affects anyone who suffers head trauma.

Here are just a few ways that post-concussion syndrome can negatively impact your life:

  • Workplace Performance Problems. Workplace performance issues are common in those recovering from PCS because of the cognitive difficulties caused by the injury. Employees who suffer from PCS frequently miss work, make mistakes, and may perform below-par.
  • Family Relationships. A person who has suffered a head injury may have trouble communicating with their family members. They may forget important events, misremember conversations, and misunderstand instructions.
  • Social Interactions. People with PCS may have difficulty remembering social interactions. They may also struggle to remember what they said, how they acted, and how others responded.
  • Fitness Levels. Athletes who suffer from PCS may have trouble participating in sports activities. They may also have problems staying alert and focused on their workouts.
  • Health Concerns – PCS symptoms can lead to health concerns like persistent headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, and sleep disturbances.

What are the Best Treatment and Strategies to Deal with PCS?

The best treatment strategy for PCS depends on the severity of your symptoms. While some people experience mild symptoms after suffering an MTBI, others may require more intensive care. Nonetheless, here are a few ways to deal with and overcome this syndrome:

  • Rest. This means taking time off from all forms of activity, including exercise. It also includes avoiding situations where you might get hurt or hit your head again.
  • Medication. In addition to resting, your doctor will likely prescribe medication to help alleviate your symptoms. Some medications prescribed for this purpose include anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and sleeping aids.
  • Physical Therapy. Physical therapy helps restore range of motion, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility. Your concussion physical therapist will teach you exercises to do at home to strengthen your brain and body.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying negative thoughts and behaviors that could worsen your symptoms. By changing your thinking patterns, you can improve your overall mental state.
  • Occupational Therapy. If you’ve had a concussion, your occupational therapist will provide you with strategies to help you return to school, work, as well as other daily tasks.
  • Nutrition and Diet. Eating well is essential for good health. Ensure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. You should also avoid foods high in sugar and caffeine.
  • Exercise. Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for PCS. However, if you haven’t been exercising regularly before your injury, start slowly. You’ll need to build up endurance gradually.

Cawley Physical Therapy Can Help With Post-Concussion Recovery!

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Our goal is to help you recover quickly to resume normal life as soon as possible. To learn more about our services, please call us today at (570) 208-2787 or email