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Persistent post-traumatic headache attributed to mild traumatic brain injury: Deep phenotyping and treatment patterns.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate clinical characteristics and treatment patterns in persistent post-traumatic headache attributed to mild traumatic brain injury.

METHODS: A total of 100 individuals with persistent post-traumatic headache attributed to mild traumatic brain injury were enrolled between July 2018 and June 2019. Deep phenotyping was performed using a semi-structured interview while allodynia was assessed using the 12-item Allodynia Symptom Checklist.

RESULTS: In 100 subjects with persistent post-traumatic headache, the mean headache frequency was 25.4 ± 7.1 days per month. The most common headache phenotype was chronic migraine-like headache (n = 61) followed by combined episodic migraine-like and tension-type-like headache (n = 29) while nine subjects reported "pure" chronic tension-type-like headache. The most frequent trigger factors were stress, lack of sleep, and bright lights. A history of preventive medication use was reported by 63 subjects, of which 79% reported failure of at least one preventive drug, while 19% reported failure of at least four preventive drugs. Cutaneous allodynia was absent in 54% of the subjects, mild in 23%, moderate in 17%, and severe in 6%.

CONCLUSIONS: The headache profile of individuals with persistent post-traumatic headache most often resembled a chronic migraine-like phenotype or a combined episodic migraine-like and tension-type-like headache phenotype. Migraine-specific preventive medications were largely reported to be ineffective. Therefore, there is a pressing need for pathophysiological insights and disease-specific therapies.

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