Defining Your Head Pain: Headache or Migraine?

headache, silent migraine

For most people, any type of pain felt above the neck is considered a headache. But it is not as simple as that. It is essential to know or distinguish if it is a typical headache or a more serious migraine case.

There is also a third wheel in the mix called silent migraine, a condition when a person deals with sensitivity to light and sound but does not feel any pain in the head.

Knowing the difference between a headache, migraine, and a silent migraine is vital because it will also determine the approach to getting relief. Different ailments have their particular signs and symptoms. Naturally, the way to find relief is different for each painful condition.


What is a Headache?

A headache is any type of pain that afflicts the head and can either be squeezing, dull, or throbbing. The pain may hit a person constantly or intermittently.  The pain itself is due to any inflammation of tissues or structures surrounding the skull and the brain.

A headache has two categories:

1. Primary Headache

In simple terms, a primary headache is the pain felt in the head. It does not originate from any other source or condition.  It is not a result of an illness or ailment. It can also be episodic, i.e., it occurs every once in a while or for about 30 minutes to a few hours.  It can also be chronic or a headache that lasts for days and frequently over a long period.

A few examples of a primary headache include what is called a tension headache, a dull and achy pain usually triggered by stress; and a cluster headache, an intense type of head pain that may include redness in the face and a piercing or burning sensation. It is called a cluster because it may come and go but afflict a person several times a day.

2. Secondary Headache

A secondary headache occurs due to a specific cause or underlying medical condition such as an allergy, inflammation of the sinus cavity, hormonal changes, and rebound headaches due to overuse of medications.


What is a Migraine?

To contrast with a headache, a migraine is a type of head pain that manifests as an intense pounding or throbbing. It may come with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to sound or light.

In some cases, people with migraines experience an “aura,” a visual disturbance that serves as a warning sign that a migraine is about to start.

The aura may include other sensations or visual experiences, such as seeing many flashing or shimmering lights, having blind spots, or seeing zigzag lines and stars.

People who have migraines may also have tingling or a numb feeling on their face or arm. Some have difficulty in speaking during a migraine attack.

Research shows that migraines may be hereditary. It is also a condition that is linked to certain anomalies or problems in the central nervous system. In terms of prevalence, it is more common among women than men.


Signs and Symptoms of Migraines

A person is said to have a migraine if he or she has any of these:

  • Intense throbbing, pulsating or squeezing headache
  • Neck pain or a stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Aura
  • Oversensitivity to sounds, light, and odor


What is a Silent Migraine?

While migraine is often associated with intense head pain levels, there is a variant that may not involve any pain at all. This painless type of head pain is a silent migraine.  According to the American Migraine Foundation, this type of migraine is also called acephalgic migraine and is similar to having an aura without any painful experience.

While silent migraine is not painful than a severe headache or a typical migraine, it can still be very debilitating due to the aura experience.


Chiropractors for Headaches and Migraines

Whether it is silent migraine, migraine, or just a headache, natural relief methods are available that people can try. In addition to taking pain relievers, people with these conditions can opt for a safe, natural way that involves upper cervical spine adjustments.

When a chiropractor adjusts the atlas bone (known as the C1 vertebra) and aligns it to the axis bone (or C2 vertebra), the upper cervical column is better aligned.  Nerve inflammation, muscle compression, and other sources of pain can go away.

The best part is that upper cervical chiropractic is a safe and gentle procedure that also helps promote optimal health while relieving stress and root causes of pain in different parts of the body.  With proper alignment of the head, neck, and spinal column, even a person’s posture is greatly enhanced. Health improves with good posture since the bones of the body are in their best forms. In addition, you can ensure proper circulation of blood, oxygen, and other vital elements.

Look for an upper cervical chiropractor near you to help with your headaches or migraines.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.