Exertional headaches are a group of headache syndromes that are provoked by physical activity. This sub-type of headache can become severe with strenuous activity such as weight lifting or sexual intercourse. Exertional headaches can occur either as a secondary headache or primary headache. Exercise headache is characterized by episodes of pulsatile head pain that are brought on by or occur only during or after physical exercise. Primary exercise headaches are more likely to occur during hot weather or at high altitude .
Exercise headaches are bilateral and throbbing in quality. They persist from five minutes to 48 hours, are triggered by physical exercise, and may be prevented by avoidance of excessive physical exertion. Exercise headaches are not usually associated with nausea or vomiting
Most exertional headaches are benign. Although these may occur in isolation, they are most commonly associated with patients who have inherited susceptibility to migraine.
Patients with new or never-evaluated exercise headaches should have an evaluation, including brain imaging and a neurovascular evaluation; blood work may also be indicated.
The Manhattan Center for Headache and Neurology has caring providers to further evaluate and facilitate acute and extended management.
By: Jordan Shankle, PA