Headaches vs. Migraines

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By Dr. Sender Deutsch
Published on November 28, 2012

Headaches vs Migraines

Headaches are a common complaint faced by many individuals. There are various types of headaches that exist and it is important to be able to recognize which one you are experiencing as there are evidence-based treatments available. Tension headaches and migraines are classified as primary headaches, while cervicogenic headaches are classified as secondary headaches. Check out the symptoms below to help understand what kind of headache you are experiencing and how to treat it properly:

Primary Headaches

Tension Headache Migraine

• Both sides of head feel as if they are pressing down on you
• Feels like you are wearing a head band that is too tight
• Stressful type headache
• Muscle tension
• Occurs less than 15 times per month
• Headache can lasts minutes or days
• Is mild to  moderate in intensity
• Pain does not become worse with daily living activities
• May be worse with light or sound
• No nausea or vomiting


• One side of your head is pulsating with pain
• Feel nauseaous and/or vomiting
• Nausea becomes worse with light or sound
• Pain is moderate to severe in intensity
• Can last from 4 to 72 hours
• Typically recurs


• Resistance band exercises: 
Initially -> 10 minutes 2 times per day for 6 weeks  
Ongoing -> 2 times per week for 6 months 


• Visit a professional for spinal manipulation 1 -2 times a week for approximately 6 weeks
• Weekly massage is also recommended
• Exercise, mediation and nutritional counselling are beneficial

Secondary Headaches

Cervicogenic Headache

• Neck is transferring pain symptom to your head or to the face
• Specific area of neck is causing the pain
• Flexibility is limited in the neck
• Neck muscles are stiff and tight
• Neck is sore to touch and it makes the headache worse


• Visit a professional for spinal manipulation twice a week for 3 weeks
• Joint mobilization for approximately 8-12 sessions over 6 weeks, by a professional
• Deep neck flexor training with exercise bands


This information was adopted from the Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Headache Disorders in Adults; January 2012 www.chiropracticcanada.ca