A recent study examined 100 patients who were admitted to a neurological unit with recent onset headaches (described as a headache that “appeared for the first time ever in the last twelve months. Patients with past history of headache were excluded from this study unless a change in character of the previous headache had been the reason for the referral). 90% of the subjects had headaches for the very first time, while 10% had previous – but now different – headaches.


A physician examined each patient and each was given a CT scan with and without intravenous contrast. Some patients were given a lumbar puncture, blood tests, an MRI, and magnetic resonance angiography if needed.


It is reported that the neurological examination was normal in 80% of the patients in this study. Further investigations, however, turned up some very serious conditions: Intracranial neoplasm (21%); subacute meningitis (5%); intracranial hematoma (3%); and hydrocephalus (2%). In all, “Headaches were considered organic in 39 (39) of the 100 patients and in 21 (26%) of the 80 with normal neurological exam.”


With recent onset headache, a CT or MRI should be obtained if the headache is severe or occurs with vomiting, nausea, or abnormal signs. However, as in the example of the 4 patients with intracranial tumors, there was no vomiting or nausea or other abnormal symptoms.


Chiropractic care may help with some types of headaches and seeking one of our Montgomery or Prattville chiropractors is be a good option for someone experiencing migraines or tension headaches. This study suggests that neuroimaging studies should be performed in all adult patients with “non-vascular headache of recent-onset and no previous history of headache,” so if you are experiencing these or other headache symptoms, contact your primary care physician or a Montgomery chiropractic clinic for information on what to do next.


Duarte J, Sempere AP, Delgado JA, et al. Headache of recent onset in adults: a prospective population-based study. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica 1996;94:67-70.