External compression headache is an infrequently cited cranial neuralgia resulting from continued stimulation of the cutaneous nerves caused by the application of pressure over the forehead or scalp. The headache can result from wearing a tight band around the head, a tight hat, or sports goggles. They include a constant nonpulsating head pain felt in the area subjected to pressure that increases over minutes, is not associated with other symptoms, and often disappears within 1 hour after removing the causative stimulus.
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. External compression headaches are caused by any type of headwear that places pressure on the head including tight hats, helmets, headbands and goggles.
To prevent external compression headaches, unnecessary headwear is avoided.If protective headwear, such as a sports or construction helmet, is necessary, one should make sure it fits properly and is positioned carefully. Pain relievers are used to provide some relief.
The mechanism causing external compression headache in some patients and not in others remains unknown. Although intimately related to the use of headgear for work or leisure, including hats, headsets, caps, goggles, and even surgical frontal lux devices, external compression headache may be misdiagnosed as tension-type headache or as transformed or chronic migraine in previously episodic migraineurs because of similarities in the clinical presentation of bilateral and/or diffuse location, pressure type, moderate-severity head pain, and a lack of associated features.