migraine headaches

Exploring the Differences Between Tension & Migraine Headaches

It’s likely that everyone reading this article has had a headache at one point in their life or another. In fact, the American Headache Society claims that approximately 40% of the US population suffers from episodic headaches each year, while 3% suffer from chronic tension-type headaches.
Additionally, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, while tension headaches are more common than migraines at a 5 to 1 frequency.
Simply understanding the differences between the two is important, as the correct diagnosis can guide treatment in the right direction.

Tension Headaches

Typically resulting in a steady tightness and aching in the neck, particularly at the base of the skull, tension headaches can irritate the upper cervical nerve roots which can lead to radiating pain and/or numbness in a patient’s head.
Sometimes, the pain can even reach the eyes but will often stop at the top of the head. Common triggers include muscle strain, anxiety, or stress.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are often much more severe, intense, and can sometimes be seen as incapacitating. These headaches usually stick to one side of the head and can bring about a feeling of nausea as well as actual vomiting.
A pre-headache warning, or what is known as an ‘aura’ will often be associated with symptoms such as a ringing or noise in the ears, a visual floater, bright flashing light, and more. For migraine headaches, there is typically a strong family history, which would indicate that genetics plays a significant role in their origin.

What Causes a Headache?

There are many causes for headaches. Commonly, they include lack of sleep and/or stress and they can also be as a result of a recent injury—such as a sports injury and/or car accident — especially when the headache is accompanied by a concussion.
Certain things can trigger a migraine headache, specifically  including chocolate, citrus fruit, depression, diet, dried fish, cured meats, excessive exercise, eyestrain, some medications, caffeine, and more. Posture is also very important to consider as well.
A forward head carriage is not only related to headaches, but back and neck pain as well. Every inch the average 12 pound head shifts forwards will add an extra ten pounds (or 4.5 kg) of load on the upper back muscles and the neck in order to keep the head upright.
What can be done for patients that consistently suffer from headaches? For starters, research shows upper cervical chiropractic care is highly effective for people with both types of headaches (tension and migraine).
Deep tissue release techniques, spinal manipulation, and nutritional counseling are common approaches used by chiropractors today. Patients are also advised to use some of these self-management strategies at home as part of their treatment plan: nutritional supplements, the use of ice, exercise (especially strengthening the deep neck flexors), and self-trigger point therapy.
However, if you want real natural relief from your migraine or tension headache symptoms, we urge you to make an appointment at our Dacula, Georgia office. Our team of upper cervical chiropractors are fully equipped to help new patients live a life free of suffering from symptoms of a wide range of common health concerns such as these.