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Headaches After a Stroke

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Headaches after both hemorrhagic and ischaemic strokes are typical symptoms that go away within 72 hours after stroke, although some cases allow for up to 7 days. Neurologists explain this syndrome as quite a natural consequence of a vascular catastrophe. The cause of these post-stroke headaches, which is the most common secondary headache in elderly patients, is a cerebral vascular pathology in which blood circulation is impaired, and the blood supply to the brain tissue is impaired.

Medication can help you manage pain faster, recover from a stroke, and prevent relapse. An important point of therapy is the fight against atherosclerotic changes in blood vessels and cerebral ischemia. It is also necessary to monitor the manifestations of concomitant diseases, for example, arterial hypertension and diabetes mellitus. In this case, timely visits to a neurologist should be observed. In addition, the rehabilitation of the patient is needed. It will help to put in order as many of his bodily functions as possible.

In this helpful article, we uncover other existing reasons why headaches appear after a stroke. We also provide examples of the necessary diagnostics to determine the main cause of headaches. In addition, you will learn what treatment can help get rid of this unpleasant symptom.

Causes of Headaches After a Stroke

Causes of headaches after a stroke

Post-stroke headaches can occur due to:

  • Stroke treatment. There are situations in which fairly harmless drugs can cause headaches after a stroke. Dipyramidol or curantil in the composition can lead to similar side effects. The main thing is not to quit treatment but to report the headache to your doctor. He will have to find other antiplatelet agents that work just as effectively but do not give a similar effect.
  • Meteosensitivity. This is not a myth but a scientifically proven fact – some people react much more strongly to sudden fluctuations in pressure and temperature. Unfortunately, medicine is absolutely powerless here in the long run. All that can be done: reduce pain with specially prescribed drugs.
  • Tightening of the neck muscles. If you were not comfortable lying in the hospital during the ischemic stroke attack, you could have a tightness of the muscles in the cervical spine. It, as a rule, stops important vessels that go to the brain, and this, as we have already found out, is the first step towards turning off part of the brain centers and headache as a symptom. You can solve this problem: it is enough to be like a special therapeutic massage (not to a salon, but to a massage therapist appointed by a doctor). Also, do not abandon physical therapy, which you are likely to be prescribed by a doctor. If there was no such item in the appointment, you should clarify this point – correctly performed gymnastics can change your life for the better.
  • Stress. Just imagine: your brain has not yet fully recovered from the shock, and you are already loading it to the fullest with new experiences, trying to return the exhausted body to its usual mode as soon as possible. Not everyone can endure such a load. In addition to the stress during rehabilitation, depression and fear of not fully recovering can declare themselves – believe me, if you were able to cope with this condition, then you are lucky because not all patients manage to escape from gloomy thoughts. In any case, if the cause of the headache is stress, this is found using special tests of a neuropsychological nature.

Don’t withdraw into yourself after an attack. Talk to your friends as often as possible, and plan how you will return to normal life after rehabilitation. Let everyone know that you are not ready just to give up, and, importantly, try to believe in yourself.

Important: do not tolerate pain. It is better to take sedatives prescribed by your doctor so that you do not have any problems afterward than to give up effective drugs at the very beginning and suffer from headaches for the rest of your life.

Diagnosis of Headaches After a Stroke

Only a specialist can find out the root cause of the appearance of post-stroke headaches, who will prescribe various procedures and conduct the necessary examination.

It can be:

  • measuring pressure, tracking its changes to exclude the possibility of developing hypertension;
  • general blood analysis;
  • a blood sugar test, identifying its effect on the intensity of pain;
  • ECG;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • psychiatrist and psychologist consultation for depressed patients.

Diagnosis of headaches after a stroke

After receiving and sorting the necessary information about the nature of the pain and obtaining the results of analyses and examinations, the specialist prescribes a treatment that considers the individual course of symptoms in each patient. Particular attention should be paid to the psychological state of the patient who has suffered a stroke. Often the head hurts after a stroke precisely because of the lurking depression.

A stroke almost always comes unexpectedly. After it, a fully able-bodied person becomes forever or in a little while constrained in movements, and cannot work and be useful to society. One can see life as entirely useless. In this case, the headache may be the only sign by which the depressive state of the patient is determined.

According to many observations, those patients who constantly communicated with relatives and felt support from them almost did not suffer from headaches.

Treatment of Post-Stroke Headaches

In the case of headaches after both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, treatment may consist of symptomatic use of conventional analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Doctors always recommend their patients not lose hope and strive for recovery. It is known that restoring physical activity and eliminating headaches is possible, even when the case is severe. Headaches after a stroke subside over time, and the main conditions for recovery are moderate physical exertion on the area of ​​the injured side. That is, the main task of medicine is always to rehabilitate the patient.

Treatment of post-stroke headaches

The main principles for recovery are the timeliness of the recovery course, and it is also especially important to observe the systematic nature of the treatment, and the duration of such rehabilitation. A stroke disrupts blood circulation, and brain cells die as nutrients are depleted. This condition is difficult to describe, and it is necessary to constantly provide the patient with optimal medical care secured by the support of the family.

Usually, treatment of similar syndromes arising from the postponed stroke pathology begins with the relief of an acute condition. In this case, treatment may consist of symptomatic administration of conventional analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

It is customary to refer to such drugs:

  • Analgin
  • Aspirin
  • Nise
  • Ketorol
  • Movalis

Pain can be treated with those analgesic drugs that are available in every home (family) first aid kit.

At the same time, when choosing a treatment for a particular patient with one or another drug, it is undoubtedly better to consult a doctor who knows the patient’s medical history. After all, it is the doctor who, taking into account all the nuances, can choose the optimal treatment for pain syndrome for a particular patient who has suffered a brain stroke.

If the headache cannot be relieved with analgesics, if the patient has other symptoms of depression, it may be necessary, in consultation with the doctor, to consider a course in which treatment is carried out with antidepressants. Such drugs as Amitriptyline, the same Fluoxetine or Sertraline.

And the so-called group of anticonvulsants – drugs like Finlepsin, Lyrica, Gabapentin, and others – can be considered the last group of medications that are appropriate for the course treatment of regular headaches in post-stroke patients.

In any case, with a strong post-stroke pain syndrome, the doctor should use the selection method to prescribe the most appropriate treatment options.

Stroke Recovery Process

Recovery periods:

  • The acute rehabilitation phase begins within 24 to 48 hours of a stroke in an emergency hospital. The duration of this period is about 3-4 weeks;
  • The early recovery period is the first six months after a stroke. But for the restoration of motor functions, it is very important to start treatment in the first three months. During this period, it is important to contact a rehabilitation center to approach recovery comprehensively;
  • The late period is from six months to 1 year after a stroke. Rehabilitation can be carried out both on an outpatient basis and at home;
  • After one year, the residual (remote) period is carried out both at home and in a medical facility.

Time plays one of the main roles in the recovery process, so the earlier you start rehabilitation, the higher its effectiveness. After completing rehabilitation, a person can quickly return to an acceptable life, getting rid of depression, which is one of the causes of post-stroke headaches.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Stroke?

How long does it take to recover from a stroke

There is no single recovery period after hemorrhage because the rehabilitation time depends on the size and location of the affected area, the type of stroke, as well as the time that has passed since the onset of the disease to the provision of specialized care. Estimated terms of rehabilitation can be presented as follows:

  • Stroke with a minimal neurological deficit – mild paralysis of the face, limbs, visual impairment, impaired coordination, dizziness. Partial recovery occurs in 1-2 months. Complete recovery is possible in 2-3 months but depends on the patient’s rehabilitation potential.
  • Stroke with a severe neurological deficit – gross paralysis of the face, limbs, severe coordination disorders. The patient becomes able to self-care after six months, and full recovery takes years.
  • Severe hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes with persistent neurological deficits lead to disability of the patient due to paralysis and other defects. Partial recovery is possible in 1-2 years. With a severe neurological deficit, complete recovery is impossible due to the necrosis of significant clusters of brain neurons, the functions of which cannot be taken over by neighboring cells.

It is important for the patient to realize that recovery from any stroke should not be over. Short daily treatments will help get rid of headaches after a stroke and prevent new stroke attacks, restoring former skills and qualities.


  • What is post-stroke syndrome?

Post-stroke pain syndrome is heterogeneous from the point of view of pathogenesis. In its structure, one can distinguish between central pain, post-stroke pain, pain associated with spasticity, shoulder pain, tension headaches, and complex regional pain syndrome.

  • What helps a headache after a stroke?

Post-stroke headaches can be relieved by painkillers such as paracetamol. It is also better to drink plenty of water, excluding coffee and alcohol.

  • What are the consequences after an ischemic stroke?

More than half of people after a stroke complain of prolonged headaches. This pain can occur when the somatosensory analyzer is damaged at any level – the cerebral cortex, thalamic nuclei, structures of the medulla oblongata, and spinal cord.

  • How common are headaches after a stroke?

Headache occurred in 6%–44% of the ischemic stroke population. It is also noted that some of them have become chronic.

  • What are the causes of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke?

Ischemic stroke occurs due to the formation of a blood clot or clot, which clogs the brain’s arteries and disrupts the blood supply. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs due to the rupture of a cerebral vessel, resulting in blood accumulating in adjacent tissues.

  • What is the most dangerous type of stroke?

Non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage is less common, but this type of stroke is the most dangerous – almost 50% of cases are fatal. And even with early diagnosis and timely adequate treatment, a person is more likely to remain a severely disabled person for life.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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  1. January 31, 2024

    I had an ischemic stroke almost two years ago and it has taken a lot out of me physically and I have gained back about fifty pounds..which I had spent two years losing!
    I am working on that one but also I wake up with headaches on the right side of my head.
    They diminish after an hour or two. My stroke was on the right and affected the left side of my body ,physically.
    I just had my annual MRI, here in Florida and it came back all ‘patent’, thankfully!
    I worry a little about having another, more serious stroke as I would like to travel to more remote countries out East and also because of the morning headaches.
    I did suffer from a major hurricane (Ian), 16 months ago and have been fighting the insurance company for more money ever since, to fix my house as it is completely unlivable and have had to move twice to different accommodation in the meantime.
    So stress has also been a factor!
    Thank You for letting me vent a little!
    I should mention that my wife and kids have been a great support through this period.

  2. February 28, 2024

    I am so worried about my recurrent headaches. Before my stroke I had a headache every morning, for a week
    The location was near the top of my head, left side. My stroke was on the right side. I hear it’s common to have another stroke, after the first so I’m always worried.

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