The difference between Migraine and Tension Headache

Headaches can be incredibly painful, and oftentimes it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Migraines and tension headaches, while both aggravating, have different presentations. Knowing the differences between the two may help you avoid your next episode.

Migraine vs. Tension Headache


  • Severe pain, usually described as “throbbing”
  • Usually felt on one side of the head
  • May be sensitive to light, sound
  • Nausea
  • See spots or flashing lights prior to an episode
  • Triggers include: low blood sugar (skipping meals), lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, strong smells, and stress

Tension Headache

    • Mild to moderate pain
    • Typically felt on both sides of the head – temples, forehead, and/or base of skull
    • Achy pain
  • Triggers include: lack of sleep, poor posture, stress, eyestrain


How Are My Migraine Headaches Related to My Neck?

Your spine helps to protect your spinal cord. Your spinal cord carries signals to and from your brain. When the top bone in your neck (atlas) is misaligned, this can create pressure within your spinal cord. This can distort messages going to and from your brain, potentially leading to facial pain, muscle spasms, and other migraine symptoms.

I am trained in a specific chiropractic procedure aimed at detecting and reducing atlas misalignments. This gentle chiropractic adjustment with no twisting, popping, or cracking. Through realigning the spine, the pressure in the spinal cord is reduced. This can potentially lead to a reduction of migraine symptoms.

Verderame et al. reported a case of a 75-year-old woman with chronic migraine headaches since she was a teenager. She initially utilized pain medication and anti-inflammatories to manage her symptoms and only saw a slight reduction in her headache severity. After receiving atlas corrections over the course of 5 months, her migraine severity decreased from 8/10 initially to a 3/10. Her medical doctor stated that her migraine duration and frequency also decreased.


  1. Nall R. Migraine vs. Headache: How to Tell Them Apart [Internet]. Healthline. 2015 [cited 4 April 2016]. Available from:

2.Silberstein S. Migraine – Neurologic Disorders [Internet]. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. 2014 [cited 4 April 2016]. Available from:

  1. Silberstein S. Tension-Type Headache – Neurologic Disorders [Internet]. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. 2014 [cited 4 April 2016]. Available from:
  2. Verderame J, Hollowell J. Cone-beam Computerized Tomography for the Bio-mechanical Assessment of the Occipito-atlanto-axial Articulation in a 75-year-old Woman with Migraines Undergoing Blair Technique. J Upper Cerv Chiro Res [Internet]. 2013 [cited 4 April 2016];2013(July):60-64. Available from:


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