Head and Face Injuries

Athletes suffer many injuries to the head and face, especially when they are playing contact sports or those sports which involve head on collision...... these injuries often occur when the sportsperson has neglected to take safety precautions such as wearing helmets or mouth guards. We have given a brief summary on various sports injuries involving the head and face such as Chronic Subdural Hematoma, Concussion, Epidural or Extradural Hematoma, Epistaxis/ Nosebleeds and Facial Fractures.

Head and Face Injuries

If you want to read more about these injuries in detail, then please visit the complete HEAD and FACE INJURIES topics listed on the left side menu, which has all the information about the causes, symptoms and treatment of these injuries.

Chronic Subdural Hematoma

Chronic Subdural Hematoma

The presence of an old blood clot between the brain and dura mater is known as chronic subdural hematoma. The common cause for this chronic condition is trauma to the head. Individuals over the age of 60 are more prone to having this condition due to brain atrophy and other medical problems. Symptoms include headache, confusion, decline in memory, weakness, nausea and vomiting, behavioral changes, vision changes and seizures. CT and MRI scans help with the diagnosis. Treatment comprises of surgery to drain the blood.



This is a common traumatic brain injury suffered by athletes or those people who have suffered from trauma or an impact to the head. It is not a serious condition; however, needs treatment to avoid short-term as well as long-term problems. A concussion can be mild, moderate or severe. The common cause of concussion is a blunt, forceful trauma such as seen in sports, car accidents etc. Concussion can be mild, moderate or severe and the time period of loss of consciousness is directly proportional to severity of the concussion. However, some patients may not lose consciousness at all.

Symptoms of Mild Concussion Include: Pain, swelling at the point of impact, alteration in mental status, memory loss, mild tinnitus, mild dizziness and headache.

Symptoms of Moderate Concussion Include: Mental confusion, definite memory loss, moderate tinnitus, dizziness or headache, balance disturbances, nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness for about 5 minutes or so.

Symptoms of Severe Concussion Include: Mental confusion lasting more than 5 minutes, severe headache, tinnitus, dizziness. Continuous retrograde amnesia, loss of consciousness lasting for more than 5 minutes, hypertension, bradycardia, seizures, muscle weakness, unequal pupil size and incoherent speech.

Tests Done For Diagnosis Of Concussion Include: Physical exam, neurological exam, EEG, CT scan and MRI of the head. Treatment comprises of rest, ice therapy, plenty of fluids and pain killers. After the athlete has recovered, he/she should make a gradual return to sports activities and that too under medical guidance. For more information on concussion and how soon the athlete can return to sports, please refer to our topic "CONCUSSION" under the main topic of "HEAD AND FACE INJURIES" on the left side menu.

Epidural Hematoma or Extradural Hematoma

Epidural Hematoma or Extradural Hematoma

This is a serious condition where the blood accumulates between the dura mater and the skull. The common cause is often a traumatic head injury. Dura mater also covers the spine, so there may also be epidural bleeds in the spinal column, although this is rare. If this condition is ignored, then it can prove to be very fatal.

Symptoms Include: Persistent headache, temporary loss of consciousness, dizziness, vomiting, dilated pupil on the affected side and muscle and limb weakness on opposite side of the injury. Immediate medical attention is required for this condition. An MRI or a CT scan helps in confirming the diagnosis and also in identifying the severity of the bleed. Surgery is done for draining the blood.

Epistaxis or Nosebleeds

Epistaxis or Nosebleeds

This is a condition where there is bleeding from the nose. Due to the rich vascular supply of the nose and because of its location, the nose is more vulnerable to trauma or injury; hence bloody nose or nosebleeds or epistaxis are quite common. It can be mild or severe. The causes include trauma to the nose, in winter season due to air dryness the nasal membranes become dry and start bleeding. Individuals who take certain medications, such as blood thinners (Coumadin) are very vulnerable to nosebleeds. Most of the times, conservative treatment is sufficient to stop the nosebleeds.

Symptoms are: Mild or severe bleeding from one or both the nostrils. Patient may feel nausea due to the flow of blood from nose to throat. Epistaxis should be taken seriously if the nasal bleeding is profuse and does not stop, if weakness is felt, there is loss of consciousness, fever and headache.

Some Of The Common Causes Of Epistaxis Include: Injury to the nose, cold, hay fever, sinusitis, high altitudes, infection, hypertension, alcohol abuse, using blood thinners, nasal tumours and hormonal changes occurring in pregnancy. Treatment comprises of conservative measures, such as lying down, pinching the nose, ice application. If all these do not help, then medical attention should be sought immediately.

For more detailed info on epistaxis or nosebleeds and how to prevent them, please refer to the same on the left side menu under the heading "HEAD AND FACE INJURIES," where we have given detailed information on nosebleeds and how to prevent them.

Facial Fractures

Facial Fractures

This means breakage or fracture of any of the bones which constitute the face, which are mandible (lower jaw), maxilla (upper jaw), and the zygomatic bones (cheek bones). Common cause is direct trauma to the face, such as seen in contact sports like rugby. Accidents are also another common cause.

Signs and Symptoms Indicating a Facial Fracture Include: Pain, swelling, bruising, facial deformity, discharge from eyes, ears or nose, pain in the jaw, visual changes, misaligned teeth, sunken eye in case of orbital fracture and jaw deviation in case of TMJ fracture.

The Different Types of Facial Fractures are:

  • Fracture of the Zygomatic Arch and the Orbits.
  • Upper Jaw or Maxillary Fracture.
  • Mandibular Fractures.

Treatment depends on the type of fracture. To read in extensive detail about classification and types of fracture and its treatment, please refer to our topic "Facial Fractures" on the left side menu under the heading "HEAD AND FACE INJURIES."

Other Head and Face Injury Topics Which are Covered in This Section:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: March 30, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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