Different Types of Headaches

Aug 29, 2018

When it comes to headaches, a lot of people assume that all headaches are the same. What is even more concerning is that many people don’t seek professional help and assume that it is something that they have to put up with.

But how do you work out what type of headache you are experiencing?

With each type of headache, most of them usually follow a common distribution pattern and are often caused by similar mechanisms. The list below will go through, in detail, how you can determine what type of headache you are experiencing and what may be the cause of it.

Tension-Type Headache:

This is a very common type of headache. People often describe it as having their head trapped in a vice, or a headband distribution, and often feels as if there is a lot of pressure being applied. This type of headache has a number or causes; stress, tight muscles, lack of sleep and poor posture, just to name a few.

Cervicogenic Headache:

These headaches usually present as a hemicranial distribution across the base of the skull and into the top of the head or down into the neck. These are often referred to as a secondary headache due to it being caused by bony or muscular structures.

Cluster Headache:

The Cluster headache has been described as one of the most painful headaches that a person can experience. Often referred to as the ‘suicide headache,’ people who suffer from this type of headache often describe the feeling as if they are being poked in the eye by a hot, metal skewer. The affected side may even suffer from  swelling or watering of the eye. These symptoms can last for a number of minutes to a number of hours. These headaches occur in clusters (hence the name) which typically last for weeks or months and occasionally more than a year.

TMJ Headache:

This headache is commonly overlooked. Many times it is often thought to be a tension-type headache due to it distribution. This headache is caused by dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (where your jaw connects to your skull) and can cause extreme discomfort when pressure is applied.


Migraines are described by pain that ranges from mild to severe and affects only one side of your head. They are often a pulsating and can last for a number of hours or even days. Physical activity and exhaustion may increase the pain perceived by the person. Other symptoms may also include photophobia, phonophobia and may even cause vomiting. There are two types of migraines, with and without aura. People who suffer from migraines with aura may have visual disturbances or even hallucinations.

These are only some of the headaches that a person may experience but are the most common. If you suffer from any of the above headaches, speak to your chiropractor about how they may be able to help reduce the pain and symptoms that you may be experiencing.

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