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The Difference Between Migraines and Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are by far the most common type in the United States and can affect any age group. While second on the most-frequent list, migraines are particularly debilitating due to their accompanying symptoms.

Pamela V. Ford, DC, at Serenity Chiropractic & Family Wellness Center in Carrollton, Texas, specializes in headache treatment that tackles pain at its source, which is often the spine and supportive neck musculature.

Dr. Ford and our team don’t want you to suffer with any kind of headache. We share this information about the differences between tension and migraine headache types and the treatments that help.

What are the symptoms of tension headaches versus migraines?

Pain is a common symptom of both tension and migraine headaches. However, the characteristics of the pain are quite different and may indicate what type of headache you’re experiencing.

For instance, tension headaches deliver a constant squeezing pain that may wrap around both sides of the head and across the forehead. On the other hand, migraine pain is usually one-sided and throbbing, with every heartbeat causing an extra pulse of pain.

Both headache types can cause neck stiffness and pain severe enough to disrupt your daily routine. 

Migraines are well-known for producing additional symptoms, such as:

In addition, migraines often include symptoms that occur before the headache starts, such as irritability, visual disturbances (flashing lights), and food cravings.

Tension headache pain can become severe enough to cause symptoms that are sometimes mistaken for migraine, including light and sound sensitivity and nausea.

What causes tension and migraine headaches?

Medical researchers continue to study migraine and tension headaches, but the underlying causes remain unclear.

For instance, your nervous system’s overreaction to painful stimuli may lead to tension headaches. On the other hand, poor posture may be the underlying cause. Migraines might stem from an imbalance of chemicals (neurotransmitters) that regulate pain signals in the brain. Interestingly, a tension headache can cause a migraine.

What is identifiable are headache triggers, many of which both types share, including:

One essential treatment for either headache type is identifying and avoiding or addressing the triggers that cause them.

Chiropractic care for tension and migraine headaches

Based on your initial evaluation, Dr. Ford develops a personalized treatment strategy that may include the following:

Dr. Ford can also work with you to identify and avoid your headache triggers, which vary from one individual to another. Her treatment goal as a chiropractor is to support your body’s natural healing ability by restoring spinal alignment and helping you develop habits that promote health.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Ford today by calling the Serenity Chiropractic & Family Wellness Center or requesting an evaluation online. We’re here to help by offering outstanding chiropractic services to our Texas community. 


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