Ponytail headache could lead to greater issues

It's called the ponytail headache, and while that may sound like a simple problem, the doctor says it can indicate something far more complicated.

Many women know the feeling -- you have your hair pulled back tight and eventually your head starts to ache.

"Usually, I'll wear braids because if I wear it up in a tight bun or a ponytail, I get a headache instantly and it stays for a while, and if I have it loose then usually I don't get a headache," says Monica Conrad.

Some girls even find they have to cut their hair to find relief.

"This past year I missed a lot of school for migraines, we didn't really know what it was, maybe allergies or something," says Sarah Lefranc. "But as summer came I decided to cut my hair really short - I cut like seven inches off - and my headaches have almost completely gone away."

Headache neurologist Dr. Wade cooper at the University of Michigan says that a ponytail pain means something.

"Ponytails are really a way of us understanding scalp sensitivity. And even though a lot of people that have pain from their ponytails and relieve that just by letting their hair out, it tells us a lot about how the nerves work in the scalp," Cooper says.

The hair shaft isn't pain sensitive but the nerves in your scalp are, and some people are more likely to feel that pain.

"We know some people have more sensitive nerve endings in their scalp then other people. And if those folks are wearing a tight hairstyle and a ponytail, that's going to induce an achiness after the hairstyle is released," says Cooper. "That's going to signal to us that their nerves are triggering underlying brain sensitivity that we see more commonly in people with migraines or other pain syndromes."

If you have chronic headaches, be aware of this link.
And if you have to wear your hair up, be smart.

"I actually noticed when I wear my hair up with a scrunchie, I don't get one, but if I use a regular ponytail, I do," said Chelsea Warner.

Dr. Cooper says if you have to wear your hair up for a special event you might want to take an ibuprofen to help lower the risk of the headaches.