Approximately 38 million people in the US alone have migraines. That is about 12% of the population. However, there are also tens of millions of people who experience various headache conditions. How can you tell if you are suffering from a headache or if the problem is actually the neurological condition known as migraine? Read on to learn 5 ways to tell the difference.
#1 Location of the Pain
The most common form of a headache is a tension headache. This commonly feels like a tight band being wrapped around the head and pressing in. On the other hand, migraines are more commonly felt on just one side of the head. It is possible to have a migraine that affects both sides, however, so this alone isn’t enough to tell the difference. Plus, cluster headaches are a debilitating type of headache that affects just one side. As a result, the location of the pain is just the first step in telling apart a headache from a migraine.
#2 Type of Pain
Unfortunately, many people believe that migraines are just severe headaches. Thus, a person may try to differentiate between the two simply by the degree of pain. However, there are several factors to consider. Tension headaches are often mild in nature. They may be annoying, but you can probably work through them. Migraines are usually moderate to severe in pain, and they stop about 90% of sufferers from working during an episode. Cluster headaches, however, are considered the most severe headache.
#3 Length and Frequency
Headaches and migraines can both be of varying lengths, but migraines are rarely less than a few hours in length and can last up to several days. Tension headaches, on the other hand, can be very brief or last for days. One thing that sets cluster headaches apart is that they do not last very long, but they are very intense and occur in groups (hence the term cluster). Both tension headaches and migraines may occur daily if they become chronic.
#4 Phases of a Headache or Migraine
One thing that really sets migraines apart is that they occur in phases and rarely start suddenly. A headache may strike out of nowhere and immediately result in intense pain. This is the case with cluster headaches and ice pick headaches in particular. Migraines may be preceded for an entire day by other symptoms, and about 1 in 4 migraine sufferers will experience aura (usually a series of visual symptoms) 20-30 minutes before the head pain begins.
#5 Additional Symptoms
Finally, the additional symptoms can really set migraines apart from headaches. Tension headaches rarely have other symptoms besides the headache itself and tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Cluster headaches will usually present with a watery eye and nasal congestion on the same side of the head as the pain. Migraines present with a host of symptoms including the potential for things like nausea and vomiting, sensory sensitivity, visual symptoms, vertigo, neck pain, and more.
This is really the most telling signal that a headache may just be one symptom of a migraine. Migraines come with a whole host of indicators. In fact, there doesn’t even have to be a headache. An ocular migraine may just involve visual symptoms, or a vestibular migraine may be limited to causing balance issues and dizziness. Migraines comprise a whole host of neurological symptoms.
Finding Natural Relief for Both Migraines and Headaches
Regardless of which condition you suffer from, you may be tired of medication that just temporarily covers the symptoms and never gets to the root of the problem. Plus, if your headache or migraine condition is getting worse, the medication may be at fault. Overuse of over-the-counter or prescription pain medication can result in rebound headaches. A person would actually have to stop the medication for a period of time to learn just how many of his or her headaches/migraines are being caused by the medication itself.
That’s just one reason we would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic. This is a natural form of care that has provided benefits for many suffering from both migraines and headaches. What is upper cervical chiropractic and why do some with migraines or headaches find benefits?
Upper cervical chiropractors focus specifically on the C1 and C2 vertebrae. These bones play a vital role in protecting the brainstem and facilitating blood flow to the brain. When misaligned, brainstem function may be inhibited and cerebral blood flow can be as well. Even cerebrospinal fluid drainage may be affected. Migraines and headaches are just a couple of the potential results if this occurs.
Diagnostic imaging is used to pinpoint precisely the location and degree of any upper cervical misalignment. Then a low-force correction is specifically tailored to each patient. This gentle adjustment does not involve any of the popping or twisting you may have experienced with general chiropractic. Instead, low-force adjustments are safe for the very young or very old and everyone in between. Once the adjustment has been administered, some find that headaches or migraines immediately become less severe or frequent. Some even receive complete relief.
If this sounds like a form of natural care that you would like to benefit from, seek out a practice in your local area. A no-obligation consultation may be your first step toward finding drug-free relief from chronic headaches or migraines.