Differentiating between Tension and Hypertension Headaches

what kind of headache do I have

Perhaps on more than one occasion, you’ve typed “what kind of headache do I have” when you searched on Google. You’re not alone.

While headaches are common, only a few know how they are differentiated based on their types and how a misalignment of the cervical bone can trigger their symptoms.

Yes, you read it right. Headaches have their own set of types. The most commonly confused and used interchangeably are the tension and hypertension headaches, besides migraine headaches and sinus head pains.

Let us understand what makes these headaches distinct from each other by knowing their basic definitions.

What Kind of Headache Do I Have?

Tension Headaches or Hypertension Headaches?

Tension headache is the most common head pain, often described as a sensation of head compression. Its pain is similar to the discomfort you feel when a band is wrapped around your head. It is an ongoing pain throughout the head starting from the forehead to the back part, could be experienced by all age groups, and can last for a few hours without any other symptom. But, thank heavens, the tension headache is the introvert type who doesn't bring any friends but definitely leaves a painful impact.

On the other hand, hypertension headaches have been a source of conflict among researchers for various findings of its origins. Instead of being caused by high blood pressure, some studies found the headache per se is linked to factors affecting high blood pressure like encephalopathy, ob gyne condition of eclampsia, and others; in short, headache triggers hypertension. It is conflicting with other studies that found that high blood pressure triggers headaches, hence hypertension headaches.

We are not about to join the fight club. Instead, we are in the referee club. Just trying to understand something to gain something like how not to have any of these headaches and get rid of them.

Patients often describe hypertension headache as having a pulsating pain in either side of the head or both that gets worse when combined with physical activities or anything that requires body movement. Some of its symptoms that need emergency response are pretty much the same as other heart problemssymptoms of numbness or needle-like sensation of the limbs, nose bleeding, blurring of vision, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Hypertension Headaches?

So how do doctors tell us which of the two we’re actually experiencing? 

Through diagnostic examinations and assessment and considering the existence of other health conditions or comorbidities, doctors identify the type of headache a patient has.

Some require a headache diary to fully know the pattern like catching a criminal, to know the intensity, location of pain, factors present during the attack. Neurologists often order MRI and CT scans, blood workups, and lumbar punctures to get spinal fluid samples for laboratory testing.

These scans and tests sometimes show uncommon causes like Atlas subluxation, the misalignment of the C1 bone of our upper cervical spine. A little pressure on the Atlas could disrupt the nervous system and your blood flow, not to mention cause dysfunction of the brain signal transfers.

These scans may also reveal biochemical imbalances that contribute to the symptoms. Other factors like hereditary diseases, lifestyle, rest and sleep quality, and stress can affect the onset of specific types of headache symptoms.

what kind of headache do I have



No one deserves to live and endure the torture of any type of headache. So naturally, people seek healing. Doctors may base their treatment method on their findings after diagnosis and assessment. Some of the care options if the patient does not have the Atlas subluxation are as follows:

For Tension Headaches

  • Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and prescription-based pain relievers like Ketorolac are often given. 
  • Biofeedback training. Under a controlled environment and supervision of a specialist, the body is trained to control muscle tension, heart rate, and breathing as the body is connected to a device, showing exactly how these factors respond to controlled triggers.
  • Talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy to manage the mental response to stress.
  • Deep breathing technique and yoga
  • A combination of medication and physical and mental therapy is proven to reduce tension headache symptoms.

For Hypertension Headaches

  • Treatment to lower blood pressure is the priority. Minimizing the prevalence of high blood pressure complications decreases the trigger for this type of headache.
  • High blood pressure is also dealt with by a combination of medication, exercise, and therapies.
  • Lifestyle and diet modification is also advised her hypertension headaches. In order to lower and or control the blood pressure, eliminating the body substances that cause its inflation is a must. Prohibiting salty, caffeinated, alcoholic drinks and foods has significantly proven healthier results for hypertensive patients.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Offers Headache Relief for Hypertension Headaches and Tension Headaches

Atlas subluxation leads to a collection of neurological dysfunction, triggering postural problems and chronic health conditions such as tension headaches and hypertension headaches. A realignment procedure using upper cervical chiropractic can bring back the atlas bone to its original position and avoid these complications.

The manual maneuver is a gentle manipulation of the affected cervical area back to its proper location. It is done in a series of sessions to gradually assist the body in realignment and relief.

Proper alignment of the upper cervical spine improves blood flow, neurological function, and delivery of nutrients needed by the brain and other body systems to function well and avoid enduring pain and illnesses.

Hypertension Headaches and Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research

The relationship between upper cervical chiropractic care and hypertension and hypertension headaches has been explored in several studies. Here's a summary of the relevant research:

  1. Improvement in Blood Pressure Values Following Specific Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: A Case Study:
    This study, published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research, discusses the case of a 77-year-old female with hypertension who showed improvement in blood pressure following NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association) adjustments. The adjustments were specifically targeted at the first cervical vertebra, and improvements were noted in x-ray findings and blood pressure readings.
  2. Reducing Blood Pressure with Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care:
    This article highlights the potential of upper cervical chiropractic care in managing hypertension. It explains how misalignments in the spine, particularly in the upper cervical area, can affect the autonomic nervous system, which controls blood pressure. The article references a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, where patients with a misaligned C1 vertebra experienced significant decreases in blood pressure following chiropractic adjustments.
  3. Chiropractic Care for Hypertension: Review of the Literature and Study of Biological and Genetic Bases:
    This review in the PubMed Central archives analyzed several studies on the impact of spinal adjustments on blood pressure. It found mixed results, with some studies showing significant changes in blood pressure and others showing no significant differences. The review suggests that while there is some evidence supporting the efficacy of chiropractic care in lowering blood pressure, inconsistencies in study designs and outcomes indicate the need for more rigorous research.
  4. Special Chiropractic Adjustment Lowers Blood Pressure Among Hypertensive Patients with Misaligned C1:
    This article from the University of Chicago Medicine discusses a study where a special chiropractic adjustment targeting the C1 vertebra significantly lowered blood pressure among hypertensive patients. This study provides evidence of the potential benefits of specific chiropractic interventions in managing hypertension.

Check out our directory and visit an upper cervical specialist near you today to help you with hypertension headaches.

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Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

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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.