They performed a CT scan of his head which showed that he had a Chronic subdural haematoma on the right side of the brain. Put simply, this is bleeding under one of the layers that cover the brain. Chronic means that it develops over time, it was a slow bleed. This was the first reported case that suggested headbanging can cause this type of injury. It is thought that headbanging or “violently rhythmic movements of the head” led to rupturing of subdural veins causing hemorrhage into the subdural space.
Since the skull is a solid structure, when there is a bleed inside the skull like this, the pressure starts to increase. As the bleed continues, the pressure increases leading to a worsening headache. In this mans’ case, the bleed was slow, so over the 4 weeks since the concert, his headache gradually got worse.
Headbanging has been linked in the past with several significant injuries, including:
- Carotid artery dissection (a tear in the artery of the neck
- Fracture of the upper neck
- There had been some acute subdural hematoma injuries but not chronic ones like this case (acute means a fast bleed).
This is a fascinating case. I wanted to write about it because it shows a few key points to be aware of that I have covered in my previous headache series. Firstly, headaches can start from many different causes. If there is no specific or obvious incident, you need to have it assessed. Secondly, I assume this man tried lots of things to ease the headaches, but it got to a point where he had to seek medical care. This is one of the headache warning signs to be aware of – headaches that are getting progressively worse in frequency and intensity. If you have a headache that is not easing or is getting worse, you need to have it assessed, sooner rather than later. I am not sure if I would wait 2 weeks like this man did.
Next time you are at a concert or a party and are rocking out to your favourite band, be careful with your headbanging, it can cause damage. The authors of the paper summoned it up nicely.
"This case serves as evidence in support of Motörhead's reputation as one of the most hardcore rock'n'roll acts on earth, if nothing else because of their contagious speed drive and the hazardous potential for headbanging fans to suffer brain injury."