What are external compression headaches?
External compression headaches can occur when anything worn on your head puts continuous pressure on your forehead or scalp.
They’re most often experienced by athletes who use helmets, eye protection or both for sports. External compression headaches are also sometimes known by names that come from the type of equipment causing the headache, such as “swim-goggle headache” or “football-helmet headache.”
How common are external compression headaches?
Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of external compression headaches?
The pain of external compression headaches is often described as moderate, constant pressure. It hurts most in the area where the object is pressing on your head. As long as the headwear is in place, the pain may get progressively worse.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes external compression headaches?
External compression headaches are caused by any type of headwear that places pressure on the head — including tight hats, helmets, headbands and goggles.
What increases my risk for external compression headaches?
External compression headaches can affect anyone who uses headwear.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How are external compression headaches diagnosed?
Diagnostic criteria for external compression headaches:
A — Headache with all of the following characteristics and fulfilling criteria C and D:
- Increasing over minutes
- No accompanying symptoms
B — Continuing application of external pressure to the forehead or scalp
C — Headache develops during and is maximal at the site of pressure
D — Headache resolves after pressure is relieved
How are external compression headaches treated?
To end your headache, remove the headwear that’s causing the pressure. Further treatment is rarely needed.
If you have a history of migraines, wearing tight headwear may trigger an attack that requires migraine medication for relief.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage external compression headaches?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with health external compression headaches:
- To prevent external compression headaches, avoid unnecessary headwear.
- If protective headwear, such as a sports or construction helmet, is necessary, make sure it fits properly and is positioned carefully. Try various styles and sizes to find the most comfortable options.
- Also, if possible, try to temporarily take off headwear frequently to remove the pressure.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: November 9, 2017 | Last Modified: December 6, 2019
External compression headaches. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/external-compression-headaches/basics/prevention/con-20025257. Accessed November 9, 2017.
External compression headaches. https://www.drugs.com/mcd/external-compression-headaches. Accessed November 9, 2017.
Helmet-Related, External Compression Headache Among Police Officers in Rio de Janeiro. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/472862. Accessed November 9, 2017.