Exercise Induced Headaches

If you are an athlete that commonly experiences headaches during or after sustained, strenuous exercise you may have what is called exercise-induced headaches, or exertional headaches. Exertional headaches can be either secondary, meaning caused by some other underlying disorder, or primary, where there is no identified underlying abnormality. Most patients who experience exercise headaches have symptoms of bilateral throbbing/pulsatile headaches brought on by, or occur only during or after, physical exercise. These headaches usually last 5 minutes to 48 hours and can be prevented if strenuous physical activity is avoided.

It has been shown that the most common types of exercise associated with exertional headaches include running, rowing, swimming and weightlifting. Although the pathophysiology behind primary exercise headaches is not fully understood, a few theories have been proposed.  Majority of these theories revolve around the idea of venous changes in the cranium during physical exercise that either stimulate pain receptors or increase the intracranial pressure. Secondary exercise headaches can be caused by more serious underlying conditions that require evaluation by a qualified healthcare provider. If you are unable to participate in your favorite physical activities due to headaches associated with those activities schedule an appointment with Dr. Carfagno at Scottsdale Sports Medicine Institute. Dr. Carfagno and his staff have years of experience evaluating athletes with headaches.

Cutrer, M.F. (2018). Exertional Headache. UptoDate. Retrieved 23 January 2019. https://www-uptodate-com.mwu.idm.oclc.org/contents/exertional-headache

“Exercise Headaches.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/exercise-headaches