What Type Of Headache Is It?

HeadacheResearch indicates that 66% of the global population suffers from headaches. The International Headache Society has classified over 100 different types of headaches! Thankfully, we can narrow it down to about 4 of the most common types. These include Tension Type Headache, Migraine, Cervicogenic Headache and Cluster Headaches.

The following is a list of the characteristics of these headaches. This information is not intended for diagnosis, it is to give you some general understanding of what type of headaches you may be experiencing. A through history and exam is necessary to come to a diagnosis


While many people assume a tension-headache is due to stress and muscular tightness in the neck, they are actually in the migraine spectrum. This means there is a neurological cause, that can be triggered by stress.

  • * Mild to moderate, pressing or tightening, bilateral headache
  • * Not worse with exertion, no nausea/vomiting
  • * May be either light or sound sensitivity


Most people think migraines are just a really bad headache. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Migraines have a neurological source; the nervous system becomes over sensitized and has triggers that cause the headache. The two most common types of migraine are without aura and with aura.

Migraine Without Aura

  • * Lasts 4 – 72 hours
  • * At least 2 of: usually pain on one side of the head**, pulsing or throbbing, limits daily activities, and made worse by exertion such as climbing stairs or exercising
  • * At least 1 of the following: nausea/vomiting, light or sound sensitivity
  • ** Although about 40% of migraineurs perceive the headache on both sides

Migraine With Aura

  • * At least 1 fully reversible aura symptom including: visual (scotoma, scintillations, fortification spectra), sensory (paresthesia, numbness), dysphasic speech
  • * No single aura symptom lasts > 1 hour
  • * Headache fulfilling criteria of migraine w/o aura begins during aura/within 1 hour


  • * Occurs once every 24 hours for 6 – 12 weeks at a time (hence the term ‘cluster’). Often returns at the same time or year or season
  • * More frequent in men
  • * Severe, one sided headache in the temple, eye or around the eye, lasting 15 – 180 mins
  • * Other symptoms such as: a runny nose, tearing of the eye, facial sweating, constriction of the pupil, eyelid swelling, or drooping of the eyelid


  • * This is called a secondary headache: meaning the pain is caused by another problem.
  • * One sided, consistent pain referred from a source in the neck
  • * Pain localized to neck/base of skull region. May project to forehead, around the eye, temples, top of the head or ears
  • * Pain may also spread to the shoulder or arm
  • * Pain is caused or aggravated by special neck movements or sustained neck posture

The good news is that for most of these headaches, chiropractic care can provide relief and allow you to manage your life better. Call (314) 731-4383 today