Soldiers with Headache: Invisible Wounds

As military veterans return from the Middle East, many return with more than they bargained for.  Research shows that headaches occur in tandem with conditions that commonly affect war veterans, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and depression. 

In a study published in the June 2008 edition of the journal Headache, U.S. soldiers were screened within 90 days of returning from a one-year combat tour in Iraq.  Of these soldiers, 19% were found to have migraines with an additional 17% suspected of having migraines.  By comparison, the prevalence of migraines in the general population is approximately 10%.  Veterans with both migraine and tension-type headaches had significantly higher rates of PTSD than those who had migraine or tension headaches alone.

The National Headache Foundation launched the War Veterans Health Resource Initiative,  This site will provide military men and women with  a comprehensive list of resources for coping with neurological trauma including headaches.  There are also online forums where they can share stories and discuss experiences.

A migraine is not just a bad headache.  It is a neurobiological disorder that can take a physically fit and mentally tough young soldier out of active duty.

This study on soldiers and headache was awarded a prize for most significant paper in the field of headache or pain published in 2010.

Resource:  Headwise, Vol. 1 Issue 1
Edited by Paula Strauss, D.C.